Chancellor Doug Kristensen

The new, three-building residence hall complex now rising on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) will have several names, all reflecting important parts of UNK’s heritage of leadership and its current culture.

The first of the buildings to open will be known as Antelope Hall, a name designed to honor the university’s Great Plains heritage and an important campus tradition. Now nearing completion and set for occupancy this August, Antelope Hall will be dedicated early in the fall semester. It will house 160 students in a mix of two- and four-person suites.

Two of the three new halls will be named in honor of Dr. William R. Nester, first chancellor of UNK and a respected educator. The Nester buildings will be connected by a walkthrough bridgeway and are scheduled for opening in the fall of 2008.

After dozens of naming suggestions from students, staff, faculty, alumni and the community, UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen asked the University of Nebraska Regents to name the future two-building residential complex in honor of Dr. Nester, who led the transition of the campus from its status as Kearney State College into the University of Nebraska system.

This part of the $22 million project will house 172 students and feature a bridge-like structure that will create a formal eastern entrance to the campus.  This bridge will contain a large lounge and meeting room looking east toward Kearney and west toward the campus mall. It will be named University View to commemorate the vision that turned university aspirations into reality.      

Two landscaped courtyard areas formed between Antelope Hall and Nester Halls will be named Ludden and Case Courtyards, respectively, to honor two women who were prominent in the formative early years of UNK’s history. Carrie Ludden served as a faculty member in the Department of Biology for almost half a century. Eva Case served as first preceptress of the women’s dormitory, Green Terrace.

The new residence halls will replace two halls that were no longer suitable for residential use: Case Hall, built in 1930, and Ludden Hall, built in 1961. The Nester/Antelope complex is the single largest construction project ever undertaken on the campus.

The NU Board of Regents will consider the proposal to name Nester Hall at its regular meeting this month. The regents have final approval when a facility is named for a person.

“The naming will celebrate Dr. Nester’s leadership of UNK’s growth to university stature and its full integration into the University of Nebraska framework,” Chancellor Kristensen said.

“That transition culminated a century of development which transformed the Nebraska State Normal School at Kearney into a teacher’s college, then a state college, and finally a comprehensive university with a proud student-centered tradition,” he said.

“In a larger sense, the initiative also honors Dr. Nester’s seminal contributions to UNK’s institutional character and enduring mission within the University of Nebraska,” Chancellor Kristensen continued. “Throughout a long and distinguished career, he exemplified the educator who put students — their development and their success — first. That was a focus of his leadership at both Kearney State College and within the University of Nebraska.“

Last October, the UNK administration asked campus constituencies, alumni, and the Kearney community to suggest names for the structures. Nominations were evaluated by UNK’s Facilities Advisory Committee, which is composed of members of the UNK faculty, staff and student senates. 

 “Several nominators and the committee suggested that Antelope Hall honors our Great Plains heritage, which has distinctively shaped our institution,” Chancellor Kristensen said. “It also aligns with an identity and positive image forged by our student-athletes, coaches and intercollegiate athletics program leaders over many decades.”

Dr. Nester’s name was suggested by many nominators and won wide support from the committee.

Chancellor Kristensen said that these themes are deeply imbedded in UNK strategic planning. “We work hard to understand what it means to commit to be an excellent residential university,” he said. “The new residence hall project is just one result — it is a symbolic landmark for our ongoing physical campus renewal strategy and core educational mission.”          

UNK is one of four campuses of the University of Nebraska. About 5,500 undergraduate students and 1,000 graduate students are enrolled. Students come to UNK from all 93 Nebraska counties, 36 states and 47 foreign countries. UNK offers 170 undergraduate majors, 25 pre-professional programs and 34 graduate programs.

The university was founded in 1905 as Nebraska State Normal School at Kearney. It became Nebraska State Teachers College in 1921 and was renamed Kearney State College in 1963.  It joined the University system, as the University of Nebraska at Kearney, in 1991.