The University of Rochester residence hall now under construction will bear the name of President Emeritus Dennis O'Brien and the residence hall complex including the new hall and grounds will be named for President Emeritus Thomas H. Jackson.
"It is fitting that our newest residence hall and the residence hall complex will honor Dennis O'Brien and Thomas Jackson," said University President Joel Seligman. "Their commitment to and investment in undergraduate education continues to make Rochester a leader in recognizing that student living and learning are integral to a successful college experience." A naming ceremony will be held in May, and O'Brien Hall will be open for about 150 students in fall 2012.
O'Brien Hall is situated at the intersection of Wilson Boulevard and Intercampus Drive and overlooks the Genesee River. It is designed to complement the existing Anderson and Wilder residence halls and the Sage Art Center—all named for important figures in the University's history. The redesigned grounds of Jackson Court will unify the area and draw students toward a natural gathering place for all seasons.
O'Brien was the University's eighth president and served from 1984 to 1994. A philosopher who earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago, O'Brien oversaw the start of the University's pioneering Take Five program, a tuition-free fifth year for qualifying students to explore areas beyond their undergraduate disciplines, as well as the development of the Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony institutes. A number of important facilities opened during his tenure, including the Computer Studies Building with its Carlson Library, and Schlegel Hall on the River Campus; the new Sibley Library, Eastman Student Living Center, and Cominsky Tower at the Eastman School of Music; and a major addition to the Memorial Art Gallery.
Jackson, who earned a law degree from Yale University, served as the University's ninth president from 1994 to 2005. The Jackson administration realized a number of significant developments, including the integration of River Campus programs into Arts, Sciences, and Engineering; decentralization of the University's principal divisions; implementation of the nationally noted Renaissance Plan, providing a significant improvement in the quality of the College's student population; revitalization of the Medical Center as a nationally recognized center for patient care and research; and distinctive curricular innovations throughout the University.
The established buildings of Jackson Court have been named for Martin B. Anderson, the University's first president (1853-1888); John N. Wilder, the first chairman of the Board of Trustees (1850-1858); and William N. Sage, the first secretary and treasurer of the Board of Trustees (1850-1890).
The construction of O'Brien Hall is targeted to meet LEED gold certification standards—a first for the River Campus—to reduce negative environmental impacts and improve energy performance, among many goals. Because it is the first residence hall to be built on the River Campus in 42 years, its interior design will differ dramatically from other student living spaces. Upper floors will offer more study rooms and lounges while common areas on the first floor will be flexible for meetings, event planning, and music and dance rehearsals, among other activities.
Sophomores, juniors, and seniors will live in O'Brien Hall with a combination of singles, doubles, and adjoining doubles. It also will offer extras such as indoor bicycle storage.
The grounds around O'Brien, Anderson, and Wilder residence halls will be landscaped with new trees far outnumbering those removed for the building project. The one-story Sage Hall, which was built originally as a dining hall and is now the Sage Arts Center, will have easy access to Jackson Court.