University of Maryland
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University of Maryland emphasizes diversity in naming 2 new residence halls on College Park campus

Dec. 22, 2020
Whittle-Johnson Hall and Pyon-Chen Hall are being named for students who helped diversify the university's student body.

The University of Maryland in College Park will name two new residence halls for former students who helped diversify the campus in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Washington Post reports that Whittle-Johnson Hall will honor Hiram Whittle, the first African American man to be admitted to the university, in 1951, and Elaine Johnson Coates, who in 1959 became the first African American woman to graduate with an undergraduate degree.

Another building, Pyon-Chen Hall, will pay tribute to Pyon Su and Chunjen Constant Chen. Pyon served as a diplomat in Korea before moving to the United States, where he became the first Korean student to receive a degree from the Maryland Agricultural College — now the University of Maryland — or any American institution, in 1891, the university says. In 1915, Chen became the first Chinese student to enroll at the college.

Whittle, Johnson Coates, Pyon and Chen exemplify the “determination to succeed against all odds,” says Darryll J. Pines, the university’s president. When Whittle enrolled as an engineering major, the campus was still racially segregated.

Both residence halls are scheduled to open during the 2021-2022 school year and will house 900 first- and second-year students.

Pines discussed plans to name residence halls for Whittle, Johnson Coates, Pyon and Chen when he took office in July.

“All four of these pioneers contributed to the rich diversity and culture that defines our campus today,” Pines says.

The new housing will be the first residence halls to be named for individuals since 1914, officials say. Housing facilities on the College Park campus are named for Maryland counties, except for Calvert Hall, named for the school’s founder, Charles Benedict Calvert.

MORE: YouTube video from the University of Maryland:

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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