Women's Dorm

Mrs. Eliza McMillan
Mrs. Eliza McMillan


When the University developed the new campus near Forest Park at the turn of the twentieth century, Eliza McMillan gave $300,000 for a women's dorm, named in memorial for her husband, William.  While Board chair Robert S. Brookings advocated against a women's dorm, Chancellor Chaplin accepted the donation, and her philanthropy created McMillan Hall, the first women's dormitory. The cornerstone was laid October 1906.

Cornerstone Laying Ceremony of McMillan Hall
Dedication, 1906

Mr. William K. Bixby gave the dedication address, stating "The large fortune which Mr. McMillan acquired he did not especially value himself... His greatest pleasure came from doing for others, ...[and] the cause of the higher eduction of women seemed especially to appeal to him... Masterful as he was among men, there was much that was beautifully feminine in his nature.... He gave largley, quietly, and where possible, secretly, to institutions for the education and advancement of women...."

The full text of this speech, as reprinted in the Alumni Bulletin 1907, is available online.

Over the years, Mrs. McMillan also gave financial support to the School of Fine Arts, the School of Medicine, and to Mary Institute (then an affiliated secondary school for girls).

McMillan Hall (exterior)
McMillan Hall, ca. 1920s

In the late 1950s, construction of new residence halls for men and women began on the South 40. 

Many of these new dormitories are named for donations by women, or in a woman's honor.  These include Helen Ette Park, Kate M. Gregg, Elizabeth J. (Calbreath) Liggett,  Helen Umrath, Maurie Rubelmann, Mrs. Arthur Groman (honoring her late husband Donald Shanedling) and Elizabeth Gray Danforth.