most difficult decisions for me are when my heart (emotion) conflicts
with my head (logic). Hurie Hall is one of those decisions. Hurie has
sat vacant for over five years and deteriorates daily. The desire to
renovate it, for sentimental and historical reasons, is strong. After
much study, however, renovation is not possible or practical.
We asked two different groups of architects to study
the building and its structural soundness. None of the architects could
guarantee that after a renovation process was started, and the contractors
could see the actual infrastructural condition of Hurie, that it would
still not have to be completely razed despite our efforts. The concern
is that after the unusable sections of Hurie are removed, we could quite
likely be left with only one or two partial walls. Logic makes a renovation
Through the incredible generosity of Willard and
Pat Walker of Springdale, Ozarks recently received the second largest
gift in our history: $7 Million. A gift of that amount demonstrates
tremendous confidence in this campus and all of us. Because of the Walker’s
generosity, we can now plan construction on a new building that incorporates
the best of both worlds.
The new building (shown below) is architecturally
designed in the same majestic image as Hurie Hall and will incorporate
several of the anticipated salvageable materials from Hurie, including
the massive columns, distinctive capstones, and historic cornerstones.
Our vision is for the new building to represent the past, the present,
and the future. It will house the Education Division and the Communication
Program, with Education being renamed the “Wiley Lin Hurie Education
Division.” The Communication Program will be as modern, technologically
cutting edge, and state-of-the-art as any communication program in the
When the decision was made to rebuild on the site
of Hurie Hall, I telephoned Mrs. Virginia Hurie Parks, Dr. Hurie’s daughter,
to discuss it with her. We had a wonderful conversation about her father’s
presidency (1923-1949), Hurie Hall, and our plans for the new building.
During the conversation Mrs. Parks made a statement that affirms our
decision and my faith in what we are doing. She expressed that she wanted
what was best for the college and for the next generation of students.
She also said that she knew that was what her father would want as well.
Dr. Hurie’s legendary genius, as both a pragmatist
and visionary, was certainly inherited by his daughter. Her blessing
on this project means more than I can express.
Dr. Rick Niece