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Starting with Brower, a timeline of how Hofstra’s campus grew

By Stephanie Kostopoulos Special to the Chronicle

Many times we have pondered the creation of great things around us. Take Stonehenge, for example: who put it there, when, and why? As Hofstra students we’re entitled to the same amount of curiosity, but about structures closer to home. This column will help debunk popular myths about our school. But first, here’s a little background.

Back in 1935 when Hofstra was first named Nassau College—Hofstra Memorial College of New York University, there were a total of 780 students and tuition was only $375 (times have definitely changed). But the first college building to emerge on Hofstra’s soil was Brower Hall in 1936. Two years later, Calkins Hall was built and completed as a gymnasium and was named after the college’s first president, Dr. Truesdel Peck Calkins. When Hofstra separated from New York University in 1939, the Netherland’s minister to the United States, Dr. Alexander Louden, presented Hofstra with silk flag showcasing the college’s seal.

Ten years later, Memorial Hall was built to commemorate and honor World War II veterans. In 1952, students raised funds to renovate via “The Wing-Ding Campaign.” Heger Hall was built in 1951 and Philips Hall in 1953. 1955 marked the 20-year anniversary for Hofstra, and Hauser Hall was built. Three years later, our beautifully constructed and frequently used Playhouse was built. Weller Hall was built in 1962, along with our magnificent Hofstra Stadium. Hofstra became a university on March 1, 1963. As a university, more buildings are needed to accommodate more students. That being so, the first two residence halls were built and four more were still under construction as of 1966. These six buildings, “The Towers,” are now known as Alliance, Bill of Rights, Constitution, Estabrook, Enterprise and Vander Poel. The same year, the Library and Unispan were also built. These were two essential additions to Hofstra, and it would be hard to picture campus without them today. The Unispan was eventually dedicated in 1980 to Hofstra’s former President Clifford Lee Lord.

Here’s a fun fact for both Jets fans and non-Jets fans alike: Hofstra became the summer training center for the NFL team starting in 1968. That’s pretty impressive. And two years later The School of Law was established. It’s safe to say our school was on a roll. On Dec. 1, 1972, the West End Theatre was opened, adding to an already well-rounded and cultural university. Going back to the Playhouse, it finally had a notable name: the John Cranford Adams Playhouse, for the university’s former President. And for all you Honors College students out there, your program was established in 1978. Gittleson Hall was dedicated to Hofstra one year later.

For Hofstra’s 50-year anniversary in 1985, the campus became a registered member of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta. No wonder everything is absolutely beautiful here. And no wonder we can’t pick the flowers…

The bird sanctuary was made on the North side of campus in 1993 to enrich Hofstra’s already biologically diverse grounds. Three years later, the Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence was established. And if anyone is willing to argue the significance of the Netherlands residence halls and all the Dutch names used on campus, make sure you know that Hofstra held its first Dutch Festival in 1984 and Princess Margriet of the actual Netherlands visited our school in 1991. So we’re all a little Dutch.

In 1995 Dempster Hall began to house the School of Communication. In 1997, the Legal Clinic and the Career Center were established on campus. All of you science and business kids would probably like to know that in 1999, Berliner Hall (chemistry and physics labs) and C.V. Starr were constructed. By the millennium, the Labyrinth and Softball Stadium were finished, and a second pedestrian bridge began construction. In 2006 the New Academic Building was built. Maybe one day it will be named for a student or faculty member on this campus right now? In 2011, the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine was officially established by welcoming its first ever class.

Hofstra has been through a lot in 77 years. It always progresses and improves, looking to make use of all its resources and abilities for its students and faculty. The largest private university on Long Island, it still continuously grows—so much so that we don’t even know how some of it all started. If this article doesn’t reveal some unanswered questions or explain some nebulous myths, I guess we’ll just have to keep trying to debunk them.

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