Auburn University dedicates residence hall in honor of pioneer Bessie Mae Holloway
Auburn University honored one of its most esteemed alumni at a dedication ceremony at Bessie Mae Holloway Hall in the Village area of campus.
Holloway, the first African American in school Board of directors member, represented the 1st Congressional District in this capacity from 1985 to 2000 and was a permanent resident of Prichard before his death on September 11, 2019. The residence was previously known as Tiger Hall, and the name change was inspired by Holloway’s engagement towards student issues and reputation as “A Student Advisor.”
“It is with great enthusiasm and joy that I speak to all of you today as part of another important milestone in the progress of Auburn University, paying tribute to a beloved former member of the Board of Directors and recognizing such a pioneering woman who was so dedicated to success. of all Auburn students, ”said Elizabeth Huntley, board member, who is co-chair of the board working group. “Having a student residence named after Dr. Holloway serves as a reminder to all Auburn students – past, present and future – that, with persistence in the face of adversity and ‘hard work, hard work,’ everything is possible. This name tells our students a lot about our journey as an institution and where we are heading.
“For me, this day also has a personal meaning. As the second black woman to serve as Auburn’s trustee, I have always been proud to carry on Dr. Holloway’s legacy. It was the progress she made and the barriers she crossed that helped lay the foundation for my journey and that of so many others. During my time as a student, I remember personally meeting Dr. Holloway, and I vividly remember how sympathetic she was to the student body during her tenure on the board.
Members of Holloway’s family – including her nephew, Norman Vivians – were on hand for the occasion, which was attended by representatives of the NAACP, as well as several Auburn board members, student leaders, administrators, faculty and staff.
“It’s a very special day for us,” Auburn President Jay Gogue said. “The stories you hear about the students and her and her dedication to (students) is really what makes her so special to us at Auburn. She’s had a great life and a great legacy she left behind and, as part of our efforts, we want to make sure that we truly honor the people who have meant so much to Auburn. We are delighted that the Board of Directors has unanimously approved the name of this Holloway Hall campus facility. “
Councilor Stephani Johnson-Norwood of the Town of Prichard represented the hometown of Holloway and presented an official proclamation in honor of the town’s revered former resident which will be on display in the building for students to see as they come and go from the hall.
“I can’t tell you how proud our little town of Prichard is of this honor,” said Johnson-Norwood. “I pray that this proclamation will be a beacon for all students – especially since they are freshmen – just as it continues to be a beacon for us at Prichard. She was well known in her community, she served her community, she helped anyone, and I heard people say that she was the closest thing to Mother Teresa you would ever meet.
Holloway led a life of education, earning his bachelor’s degree from Alabama State University, his master is Xavier University from Louisiana and his doctorate in education from Auburn. She has worked more than 25 years as a teacher and pedagogical specialist with the Mobile County Public School System.
She has been dedicated to Auburn students during her tenure on the board, dedicated to inclusion and diversity, and has been a role model and mentor to many students as a trailblazer leading significant change at Auburn. In 2000, Holloway received the Auburn University Black Caucus Board Award for helping support caucus causes.
“The residence behind us has hosted thousands of freshmen,” said Bobby Woodard, senior vice president for Student affairs, which opened the remarks of the ceremony. “For many students, this was their first home on the plains. It was there that they made lifelong friendships and experienced many firsts as Auburn students and campus residents. This is where their love for this university grew as part of the Auburn family.
“These students came to Auburn from all over, made a significant impact on campus, and became leaders in their careers and communities. Today we officially name this building Holloway Hall, and I can’t think of a more appropriate namesake.
Auburn’s board of directors voted on the naming initiative at its February 5 meeting, and the Holloway Hall ceremony was the first of two scheduled this month. Eagle Hall was renamed in honor of Josetta Brittain Matthews, Auburn’s first black graduate.
“It is with great pride that we all witness this historic moment to honor the legacy of Bessie Mae Holloway, who brought lasting progress while serving as the first black member of Auburn’s board of directors and only his second female member, ”said Auburn Trustee James Pratt, co-chair of the board working group. “As a member of the Board of Directors, I am happy to see this continued movement towards progress, recognizing those whose footprints over time have paved the way for our great institution and the necessary adhesion to a culture of inclusion. which will serve to unite more. our strong Auburn family. With this denomination, we reaffirm our commitment to the ideals of Auburn creed as we continue the long-term deliberative work to advance and promote opportunity and equity.
“This day is a testament to the value we place on diverse perspectives and experiences and an environment in which we can all excel and thrive,” said Pratt. “And it is so exciting to see Dr. Holloway receive this well-deserved recognition for her years of service and all that she has done to benefit Auburn for years to come.
The Trustees Task Force recommended last year that the student center be renamed in honor of Harold Melton, the first president of the Auburn black student government and chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia. the official name change last November makes the Melton Student Center the first building in Auburn named after an African-American.
Auburn’s latest efforts to assess the history and context of his named buildings and structures are part of a larger initiative by Auburn to promote opportunity and fairness. Gogue said the university is committed to advancing inclusion and diversity as core values and is focusing on several initiatives in this effort, including addressing disparities in recruitment and retention. students, faculty and staff from under-represented areas, as well as the implementation of a campus-wide campus. education and training program on diversity, equity and inclusion.
This story originally appeared on Auburn University website.