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Housing Alumni News

March 15, 2013

Greetings from JB

It has been an exciting time in UHDS, and we have many reasons to celebrate our centennial. With the re-opening of Corbin/Olson, completion of Lincoln/Washington bathroom renovations, the demolition of Wetzel Hall, and the start of the Thompson Hall renovations, we can celebrate several successful endeavors of facility renovations and projects in conjunction with our master plan. We can also celebrate the achievements of our wonderful staff and students—both past and present—who continue to shine and make UHDS a great place to work. We always love hearing from you to help celebrate your successes and honor your achievements. We hope to see you this summer at the 100 years of housing celebration to help us commemorate WIU’s housing accomplishments over the last 100 years!

John Biernbaum

Associate Vice President for Student Services

Celebrating 100 Years of Housing

As we plan a reunion to celebrate 100 years of housing at WIU, we thought it would only be fitting to take a brief look at the history of residence life and celebrate how far we have come.

Plans for the first women’s residence halls began in May 1911; and by 1913, Monroe Hall, a three-story brick building, was built near the current Physical Plant, becoming the first residence hall established for women. This was the very beginning of what would be a great 100 years of WIU residence hall experiences.

Nearly 30 years later, in 1946, a Veteran's Village was established on the current Corbin/Olson site; the village housed a large number of male students.  

By the late 1940s, Monroe Hall’s name was changed to Grote Hall, in honor of Caroline Grote (the Dean of Women), and an addition was constructed to the building. 


About 40 years later, in 1954, Seal Hall was built as a residence hall for men on the site of the old football field. This was the marker of the now two standing residence halls that made up WIU on-campus housing. In the summer of 1958, Hursh Hall opened, housing 135 men. The residence hall system had begun to grow and flourish.


By the 1970s, more halls were being built and becoming co-ed. By September 1970, Wetzel Hall opened. One year later, Grote Hall, formerly known as Monroe Hall, closed.  In 1975, an open cafeteria proposal was written by Inter-Hall Council to allow residents to eat in any cafeteria on campus; prior to that, students were restricted to dining in the hall in which they resided.


In the 1990s, the South Quad experienced major changes: Grote Hall was demolished in 1991. In 1993, the South Quad (Bennett, Hursh, Lincoln, and Washington) closed.  By Fall 1995, after being renovated, Lincoln and Washington Halls reopened to offer single-occupancy rooms. By late 1998, Hursh Hall was torn down. As more and more people moved into the residence hall system at WIU, there were minor and major changes made to accommodate our new and growing populations.

What’s changed you ask? In 1956, residents in Seal Hall were charged $5 a week for meals (I’m sure we all want to go back to these days!). By the late 1950s, “the term ‘dormitory’ was being replaced by ‘residence hall,’ as campus housing was increasingly viewed as an extension of the learning experience, with social, recreational, and other benefits” (Hallwas, 1998). In the 1960's, quiet hours were observed from 7:30 pm to 7:00 am seven days a week, far from the current hours, which are observed from 10:00 pm to 11:00 am, Sunday through Thursday, and 1:00 am to 11:00 am, Friday and Saturday. Additionally, room expectations have changed over the years. Room expectations were discussed in the 1962 Bennett Hall Handbook:

Your room is expected to be kept in order at all times. It will be cleaned once a week by someone who does not have time to pick up carelessly thrown articles of clothing. Your bed should be made by 10:00 every morning. We will not go around checking on you all the time, but we do receive reports from custodial staff of our rooms that are not in good order. Note that your room will not be cleaned if it is not picked up.

In 2004, Caroline Grote Hall opened on the site of the former Bennett Hall. Fall 2009 also introduced the change from Tanner Hall as an upperclassmen hall to a First Year Experience hall.
By Fall 2009, Wetzel Hall was taken off-line. Opening in September of 1970, Wetzel Hall was used for nearly four decades as a home for tens of thousands of Western students. Wetzel was officially decommissioned in July 2012 with a weekend-long celebration.

Also in 2012, Corbin and Olson Halls' renovations were completed and they reopened to the student body for residency. Corbin and Olson were built in 1965 and 1966, respectively. The renovation concentrated on bringing the mechanical aspects of the buildings up to date as well as completing aesthetic and programming upgrades.  WIU Housing has been busy at work for the last 100 years trying to make the on-campus experience a worthwhile one, and we are not done yet.

As part of our master plan updates, Thompson Hall is currently undergoing renovations which will include a total replacement of the existing exterior wall, new windows, and an upgraded HVAC system in the residential rooms. Also included in the student room remodel will be new carpet, overhead lighting, paint, and room furniture.
While Thompson will not see a complete renovation like Corbin and Olson, those students who have ever lived in Thompson seem more than ready to move back in.

In 1913, Monroe Hall was opened for occupancy, and 100 years later we reflect on our history and celebrate our achievements. The reunion to celebrate 100 Years of Housing will take place during the CSP (College Student Personnel) Institute in June. We would love for you to revisit campus, reconnect with old friends, and celebrate how far housing has come since Monroe Hall.

WIU Housing Staff & Students: Award-Winning

Western Illinois University Housing staff and students brought home the "gold" recently from the annual GLACUHO (Great Lakes Association of College and University Housing Officers) and GLACURH (Great Lakes Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls) conferences as well as being the host for the IRHA (Illinois Residence Hall Association) conference and bringing home awards from that event.

John Biernbaum, Associate Vice President for Student Services was the recipient of GLACUHO's Distinguished Service Award, which is the highest honor given in the region. Biernbaum has served as the Associate Vice President for Student Services at Western since September 2010. JB's service to this institution and to the housing profession is outstanding," said Vice President for Student Services Gary Biller. "He is most deserving of GLACUHO's highest honor."


Joe Roselieb, Director of Residential Facilities, received the GLACUHO Service Award. 
Roselieb has served as Director of Residential Facilities since July 2012. In addition to his full-time role in Housing, he is the caretaker of the University's official mascot, Col. Rock III, a three-year-old English Bulldog.

"Joe is an individual who has distinguished himself on campus and in the Great Lakesregion," Bierbaum said.

Tera Monroe, former Director of Residence Life, was named GLACURH Adviser of the Year. Monroe served as Director of Residence Life from June 2008 through February 2013.”Tera has helped cultivate a culture of tradition with our Inter-Hall Council students which has brought great recognition to IHC, UHDS, and WIU," Biernbaum noted.

Jenna Decker, a junior Sociology major from Oak Forest and Vice president of Inter-Hall Council, received GLACURH's Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes outstanding student leaders.

Matt Jeslis, a junior Law Enforcement major and president of Inter-Hall Council, received IRHA’s President of the year award. This award recognizes a president of a school’s Residence Hall Association that has gone above and beyond their expectations.

Ashley Francis (Frankie) Lill, a junior Biology major, received the Caroline Verstrate Outstanding Service Award Scholarship. Frankie Lil was recognized for her outstanding involvement in student leadership and in our residence life department.

"These students exemplify what we want in our students at Western. They are truly deserving of these honors," Biernbaum added.

WIU’s student delegation was recognized as most spirited delegation at the IRHA conference. The delegation represented their purple and gold boldly and proudly throughout the conference, brining home the award for having the most spirit.

Save the Date!

100 Years of Housing Reunion

Mark your calendars to revisit, reconnect and help us celebrate 100 Years of Housing at WIU! Activities will include a Welcome Back BBQ, Night on the Town, Golf Outing, Campus and Residence Hall Tours, Lunch and a Social. We will have lodging available in the newly renovated Corbin & Olson Halls. Registration will be available April 15 at wiu.edu/housing. Connect with us at facebook.com/WIUHousingAlumni 

Trying to Reunite with Old Residence Hall Staff? 

If you are trying to reunite with your old residence hall staff, simply email uhds-alumni@wiu.edu. We will help you coordinate getting your group together for a staff reunion; this could include helping set up a tour of your old residence hall, coordinating hotels, and meals, etc.

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