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Wednesday, November 25, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 67

About the Cougar

The Roy Gustav Cullen Memorial, dedicated in 1939, was the first building on campus on the UH campus. Its namesake died in an oil rig accident in 1936.

J. Parsons/The Daily Cougar

By Lisa M. Chmiola
Features Editor 

What's in a name? Everything has a name for a reason. The same holds true for buildings on the UH campus.

Admit it: You've probably been sitting in English class one day wondering who Roy Gustav Cullen was.

Or maybe you're aspiring to fame and fortune, and want to have a building of your own on this campus 20 years from now.

So how is the UH building name game played, anyway?

Name that facility

Traditionally, it takes money -- a whole lot of money -- to obtain naming rights for a campus building.

According to UH System policy set in 1994, only the Board of Regents can name a facility. Additionally, a major gift for construction or renovation of a building qualifies it for naming or re-naming.

George Grainger, director of corporate and foundation relations, said a donor generally must fund half the cost of a facility for its naming rights, subject to board approval.

Most buildings that bear a person's name were constructed with donor funds, and most buildings not named after a person were funded institutionally, Grainger said. The Athletics/Alumni Center, funded by alumnus John Moores, is a recent exception.

But Moores did elect to have the School of Music, its building and opera house named for him and his wife, Rebecca, after donating funds for the facilities.

According to the policy, recommendations for naming facilities must be submitted to the University president or an appropriate UH System officer, who will then forward them on to the chancellor (if necessary). The recommendations then come up for review by the board. Following board approval, appropriate signs are then put into place.

Students did not approve of the Board of Regents' naming of Hofheinz Pavilion. In addition to repeatedly spray-painting the building, they found alternate ways to express their views.

Houstonian file/1970

‘Who's Whoi among UH buildings

The first building on campus was the Roy Gustav Cullen Memorial, dedicated June 4, 1939. The $260,000 for its construction was donated by Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen for a memorial to their son, Roy, who was killed in an oil rig accident in Edinburg in 1936 at age 31.

According to the UH Ambassadors handbook, the building was the only structure completed on a campus without parking lots or drainage, and several guests had to have their cars hauled out of the mud after the dedication ceremony.

Hugh Roy Cullen also named a building for his grandfather: the Ezekiel Wimberly Cullen Building in 1950. According to In Time, a history of UH's first 50 years, Ezekiel Cullen provided a historic report to the Republic of Texas in 1839 providing for the establishment of a free school system.

In addition to office space, when the E. Cullen Building first opened it also housed 46 classrooms and the fifth-floor studios of KUHF. The studios later became space for KUHT, the first public television station in the nation.

The Cullens can also be found honored in the Cullen Family Plaza, where the fountains are located. The latest renovation was made possible by Moores; rumor has it that he would meet his wife for lunch at the fountains while they were students, and he later proposed to her there.

The M.D. Anderson Memorial Library also opened in 1950 through a grant from the Monroe D. Anderson Foundation.

That year also brought the first residence halls to campus: the five-building Quadrangle. Each building is named for someone in UH history.

The main building, Oberholtzer Hall, is named for Edison E. Oberholtzer, UH's founder and first president.

The surrounding buildings are: Bates Hall, named for Col. William Bartholomew Bates, an original Board of Regents member; Law Hall, named for Francis Marion Law, a regent from 1948 to 1961; Taub Hall, named for Ben Taub, who donated the first 35 acres of land to UH for establishment of its present campus; and Settegast Hall, named for Julius J. Settegast, who donated another 70 acres of the land the campus is built on.

But the Quad isn't the only housing area bearing a person's name. UH also has the Moody Towers, completed in 1970 and gifted by the Moody Foundation. The complex was planned to have four towers, but only two were actually built.

The North Tower was named Libbie Shearn Moody Tower, and was the women's dorm; the South Tower is the W.L. Moody Jr. Tower and was the men's dorm. Shearn Moody, the grandson of the cotton, banking and insurance tycoon, took classes at UH's downtown school in the early 1950s, according to In Time.

The Fred J. Heyne Building (1958) bears the name of Houston legend Jesse H. Jones' business manager. Jones financed the buildingis construction through the Houston Endowment Inc.

Several buildings on campus are named for former Board of Governors/Board of Regents members: Stephen Power Farish Hall (1975); the Lamar Fleming Jr. Building (1964); Robertson Stadium, for athletics supporter Corbin J. Robertson (built 1940, named 1981); and Agnes Arnold Hall (1967).

Arnold was a regent from 1950 to 1960 and a Cullen daughter. The handbook states that she was unhappy with the way AH -- originally called the General Classroom Building -- was built, and refused to have her name associated with it. Once it won a architectural award for its unique design, however, she changed her mind.

Soon afterward, that design would change as the glass doors and windows on the north side were added to keep birds from flying through and tame the winds that would whip through the buildingis open hallways.

Garrison Gym's (1970) name comes from Winifred Garrison, a professor of philosophy. The A.D. Bruce Religion Center (1964) was named for the former UH president.

Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall (1974) was also named for a former president. Hoffman was at the UH helm for nearly 20 years. And McElhinney Hall (1971) is the namesake of Charles F. McElhinney, who served UH for 40 years, 25 of them as vice president.

J. Parsons/The Daily Cougar

Philip Guthrie Hoffman Hall was constructed in 1974 and named to honor the former UH president and first UH System president.

And there are buildings named after alumni: Melcher Gymnasium (also 1970, for LeRoy Melcher), Melcher Hall (1986) and the soon-to-be constructed Center for Public Broadcasting (both for Melcher and his wife, Lucille), and Hofheinz Pavilion.

When the Board of Regents chose to name the pavilion for alumnus Judge Roy Hofheinz in 1970, the students rebelled because they had hoped it would be named for basketball star Elvin Hayes. Therefore, artists took license to spray paint "The Big E" on the side of the fieldhouse in protest.

I saw the sign

In the future, UH streets could also bear the names of alumni and other distinguished UH contributors. According to Ron Shoup, director of campus planning and real estate, all campus streets will bear new signs at the beginning of next year, distinguishing each entrance road.

Although each will only have an entrance name for now, Shoup acknowledged the possibility of future name changes. 

"There's a lot of things that could be named ... streets are an obvious example," Shoup said.

"It helps to have things named so people can use them as a reference." 

Reach Chmiola at

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