Campus gathering to bid goodbye to Hoekje and Bigelow halls

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Hoekje Hall

KALAMAZOO—Current and former students, faculty and staff and other members of the Western Michigan University community will come together Friday, June 7, to mark the end of the line for two longtime campus residence halls.

A gathering will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. in the main areas of Hoekje Hall, which opened in 1959, and Bigelow Hall, which opened in 1961. The event will include building tours, photo opportunities, brief remarks and a reception.

Invited to the occasion also are members of the families of the two faculty members for whom the halls were named. Dr. Howard F. Bigelow was an economics professor at WMU from 1924 to 1961. John C. Hoekje was a professor of education and psychology who also served as registrar, dean of admissions and director of extension during his 1916-to-1955 tenure at the University. 

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Bigelow Hall

In the coming months, both halls will be demolished to make way, in coming years, for new campus residence halls. Replacing the two halls in the short run will be Eldridge and Fox Halls in Goldsworth Valley, which have been offline for several years.

Gathering is open to all

More than 500 invitations to the event were mailed, to people with particular ties with the halls--either as former residents or employees. The event is open to others as well. Those wishing to attend are asked to make a reservation at mywmu.com/bigelowhoekje or by calling Erin Kaplan at (269) 387-2176. Kaplan is coordinating the event for the Division of Student Affairs. The website includes a mechanism for people to share their memories about life in the two residence halls as well as a history of both facilities.

During their more than 50 years in service, the two halls have been home to tens of thousands of students. For many residents, living in Hoejke or Bigelow represented their first experience away from home. The two halls are part of what is known on campus as the Big Three residence halls, with Henry Hall as the third component of that group. Their central campus location behind the Bernhard Center made them popular choices for students. In continuous service since their mid-20th century opening, about 400 people per semester have lived in each hall.