CORVALLIS - The first new residence hall at Oregon State University in nearly 30 years has been named the Carrie Halsell Residence Hall after one of the university's first African American students. The hall is scheduled to open this fall.

Carrie Halsell (Ward) received her high school diploma from Salem High School in 1921 and graduated from OSU - then the Oregon Agricultural College - in 1926 with a degree in commerce. Halsell dedicated the rest of her life to higher education, teaching for more than 30 years at historically black colleges, including Virginia State University and South Carolina State University.

While at Virginia State, she was a charter member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

Halsell, who also earned a master's in business education from New York University, eventually retired from South Carolina State in Orangeburg, S.C. in 1968 - the same year as the "Orangeburg Massacre," where three students were killed during a civil rights protest. She died in Orangeburg in 1989.

The process for naming the new student residence hall began more than a year ago, and residence hall students supported naming the hall after a student - especially one considered a "trailblazer" who had to overcome odds to get an OSU education.

Carrie Halsell overcame odds in 1926 by getting her degree at a time when few African-Americans lived in Oregon. That was, in fact, the same year that Oregon's Exclusion Law - which prohibited African-Americans from voting - was taken off the books.

The Carrie Halsell Residence is a four-story, L-shaped facility that will house about 210 students in suites and apartment-like rooms. The hall will also include a staff apartment and a faculty apartment - each with three bedrooms and a private entrance. Construction of the facility began last summer and will be completed by fall. The contractor for the project is J.E. Dunn Construction, Northwest of Portland.

"On the outside, it will have more of a residential look," said Tom Scheuermann, director of University Housing and Dining Services, "while the suite arrangement will be a nice balance between community living and individual student privacy."

The new residence will have a "Community Service Learning" theme - a concept that promotes responsible citizenry and fully integrates experiential, hands-on learning activities with a student's academic and social experience. "The objective is to help students make the connection between belief in helping others and acting to influence social change in the hall, around campus, off-campus, and globally," Scheuermann said.

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Tom Scheuermann, 541-737-0998