Andy Hyland
Office of Public Affairs

Three buildings in KU's Central District named for university historical figures

Wed, 06/14/2017

LAWRENCE — The Kansas Board of Regents today approved names for three buildings in the University of Kansas’ Central District redevelopment project, honoring three prominent historical figures.

A KU Student Housing residence hall, apartment complex and a student union all received names: Cora Downs Residence Hall, Stouffer Place Apartments and Frank R. Burge Student Union.

Stouffer Place Apartments and the Burge Union will continue the use of names for KU buildings torn down as part of the reconstruction of the Central District, while Cora Downs Residence Hall will recognize the contributions of a renowned scientist.

Downs Hall opens in August for new and returning students. This 545-bed residence hall adjoins a new 22,000-square-foot dining center shared with existing Oliver Hall. Stouffer Place Apartments feature private bedrooms and bathrooms, a full kitchen with dishwasher, and laundry machines in each unit. The 708-bed complex opens July 2018.

“We’re excited to open these residential buildings and provide more options for students to continue living on campus longer into their KU careers. The unit types and additional privacy are exactly what today’s students have asked for,” said Diana Robertson, director of KU Student Housing. “The historical names, which honor a ground-breaking scientist and an academic dean, fit perfectly with our mission to build learning-centered communities. It is a privilege to honor their legacy.”

The Burge Union, slated to open in summer 2018, contains 33,000 square feet of space to support the needs of students, faculty and staff with student service offices and study space. It will expand KU’s available event space and will be the home of Legal Services for Students, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center and the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity. It will also include a coffee shop and a convenience store.

“We are pleased to be able to continue to honor Frank Burge, KU’s "Gracious Host" for 30 years, with a new, state-of-the-art building,” said David Mucci, director of the Kansas Memorial Union. “This new facility offers us the opportunity to bolster the student experience while serving the broader KU community needs in the Central District.”

Frank R. Burge served as director of the Kansas Memorial Union from 1952 until 1983 and is credited with building the union into one of the best in the country in facilities and programming. He was known as a “one man Welcome Wagon,” and was a beloved figure on campus, even well after his retirement. During his 31 years as director, he oversaw a major expansion of student services, programming and structural expansion of the union on Jayhawk Boulevard.

Cora Downs Hall honors the first woman to receive a Ph.D. from KU. She earned that degree in 1924 after receiving her undergraduate and master’s degrees from KU. She became one of KU’s most outstanding scientists, working first in 1917 as an instructor of bacteriology and rising to become a professor. She remained a member of the faculty until her retirement in 1963, save for a hiatus during World War II when she led 40 scientists in a top secret biological warfare project. Her grandmother, also named Cora Downs, was the first female member of the Kansas Board of Regents.

The Stouffer Place Apartments are named in honor of Ellis B. Stouffer, who served KU for 41 years as a teacher, scholar and administrator. He served as chairman of the Department of Mathematics and was Dean of the Graduate School from 1922 to 1946. He also served in a position similar to the provost as Dean of the University. The new apartments will continue to use the name previously used for an apartment complex that served married students and students with families.

KU’s Central District redevelopment project is a larger effort designed to meet immediate infrastructure needs, transforming the area into a new hub of education and research designed to fulfill the university’s mission as a flagship research university. 

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