Ohio State celebrates grand opening of Hale Hall
The Ohio State University today celebrated the legacy of Frank W. Hale Jr., a lifelong champion of civil rights and inclusion in higher education, with a series of events commemorating the relocation of his namesake center into one of the Columbus campus’s most historic buildings.
A ribbon-cutting marked the relocation and renovation of Hale Hall, now located at 154 W. 12th Ave., which honors Hale, a former Ohio State vice provost and professor emeritus.
Joseph Alutto, interim university president; Valerie Lee, vice provost for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, vice president for the Office of Outreach and Engagement and chief diversity officer; Hale family members and dignitaries marked the occasion with faculty, staff and students and the Columbus community.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building (formally Enarson Hall) served as Ohio State’s first student union in 1911-- the fourth constructed in the nation and the first built at a public university.
The Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center, which occupies the first floor, is one of the few such centers in the nation to be housed inside a building of such historical significance on a college campus. Hale Hall also serves as the new home for the Office of Outreach and Engagement and unites the cultural center with its administrative home, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
Lee said the relocation of Hale Hall fulfills a long-held vision of Hale’s, who died in 2011.
“This relocation is significant because we are galvanizing the talent and resources of the Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Office of Outreach and Engagement at one site—a site at the crossroads of a major campus gateway, a site closer to the many constituencies that we serve,” Lee said.
Alutto underscored Hale Hall’s prominence on campus stating it stands as a symbol for the central place that diversity holds in the university’s mission.
“We honor the legacy of inclusion and diversity that was the hallmark of Frank Hale’s life by naming this historically significant building in the heart of campus after him. A commitment to welcoming students from all backgrounds and walks of life is central to Ohio State’s mission as a land-grant university,” Alutto said.
The celebration included panel discussions with academic leaders from around the country whose research and expertise address the role and future of diversity in higher education. (The day-long celebration will end with a gala at the Columbus Renaissance Hotel at 7 p.m. All funds raised from the gala will support student scholarships and programming.)
Beyond its relocation of the building, Hale Hall now houses the newly established Frank W. Hale Jr. Civil Rights Library. It includes Hale’s collection of civil rights books, several pieces of his private art collection, awards and other artifacts bequeathed to the Hale Center.
Larry Williamson Jr., director of the center, said the addition of the library, combined with an international art collection, exudes the essence of the vision that Hale held for the center and the university.
“The opportunity for the Hale Black Cultural Center to move into this historic facility on central campus will certainly benefit the more than 100,000 students and visitors who come to the Hale Center each year,” he added. “I only regret that Dr. Hale was unable to see his dream come true of moving Hale Hall to a more expansive and historically relevant location.”
About The Ohio State University
Ohio State is a dynamic community of diverse resources, where opportunity thrives and where individuals transform themselves and the world. Founded in 1870, The Ohio State University is a world-class public research university and the leading comprehensive teaching and research institution in the state of Ohio. With more than 63,000 students (including 57,000 in Columbus), the Wexner Medical Center, 14 colleges, 80 centers and 175 majors, the university offers its students tremendous breadth and depth of opportunity in the liberal arts, the sciences and the professions.
About the Office of Diversity and Inclusion
The Ohio State University Office of Diversity and Inclusion is one of the oldest and most prominent offices of its kind in the nation. Founded in 1970, for 43 years its mission has supported the recruitment, retention and success of students, faculty and staff who enhance the diversity mission of Ohio State. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion oversees the Hale Center, the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male, the American Disability Act program (ADA) and the nine-city Young Scholars Program, and is home to a wide range of retention, mentoring, scholarship and access programs.
About Frank W. Hale Jr.
During his tenure as an associate dean and a vice provost, Frank W. Hale Jr. founded Ohio State’s undergraduate Minority Scholars Program – now recognized as the Morrill Scholars Program – and the Graduate and Professional Schools Visitation Days program, which increases the number of minorities seeking advanced degrees. Hale also inspired the creation of the Black Cultural Center and the President and Provost’s Diversity Lecture and Cultural Arts Series, which brings to campus eminent scholars, artists and professionals who discuss and exemplify excellence through diversity. In October 2010, Hale was nominated for his last great honor – induction into the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame, capping a life-long career of civil rights activism.