Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

May 4, 2012

Residents weigh in on future of NSU dormitory

TAHLEQUAH — Northeastern State University President Dr. Steve Turner met with community members on Thursday to continue the forum discussion on what to do with the landmark dormitory known by many generations of students as Wilson Hall.

“I have absolutely no preconceived ideas of what should be done with Wilson Hall,” said Turner.

“I have been involved in the preservation and renovation of historic buildings. You can look at my resume.  I’m just the newest part of the equation.”

No matter the use of the building, former NSU education professor Jeannette Wilson believes the campus structure that was first used in 1937 should remain a historical presence.

“As a former professor at NSU and also as a person who holds a degree in history, I think one of the main important, physical points about NSU are the buildings around the quad,” said Wilson. “I think those [buildings] are unique. The idea of taking down Wilson Hall, and I don’t care what it’s used for, but the idea of taking down the building because it’s not worth dealing with because of a leaking basement or structural problem is a very short-sighted thing to do. I rest my case.”

Turner held an open dialogue with NSU faculty, students and staff in April and received suggestions to convert Wilson Hall into a building dedicated to providing a place where students and faculty could interact, a Native American cultural center, a housing facility for visiting dignitaries while other suggestions included using the building for student organizations.

“I see the balance it provides the campus,” said Turner.

“Tonight is not about sharing a lot of memories or going down memory lane. What it’s about is what should be done with Wilson Hall. What is its future at Northeastern State University? I understand the love and respect people have. Believe me, in higher education we understand the significance and importance of historic buildings.”

Suggestions from Thursday’s forum included using Wilson Hall for a retirement village for former faculty, a museumto reflect the rich Native American history, an early-childhood lab school, a community resource center, to housing technology-updated classrooms or student support services.

Because memories of Wilson Hall live on in the people who have called the structure home, the decision on its future should be carefully pondered, said NSU professor Dr. Carl Farinelli

“This is more philosophical than it is practical and that is I just hope that we will weigh the data,” he said. “The short-term data, dollars and cents, comparing what it costs to build an efficient, modern building compared to renovating such a classic, beautiful structure. I guess that kind of gives away my feeling.”

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