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Feb. 11, 2014

MSU’s Morrill Plaza honors MSU traditions, heritage

Michigan State University’s Morrill Plaza will honor the heritage of the Morrill Act, the academic excellence of MSU and the history of women and their role in the early years of the university.

Located on the site where Morrill Hall stood for more than 100 years, the plaza’s grand opening was held Feb. 11. It features a park-like setting, complete with benches and trees. It also includes a walkway that sits almost exactly where the hall’s main hallway existed.

One of the more unique features of the plaza is a kiosk that contains two touchscreen panels that allow people to learn about some of MSU’s most prominent faculty throughout the years.

Among the faculty being honored are William Beal, the developer of hybrid corn; Maude Gilchrist, dean of women in the early 20th century who taught one of the university’s first education courses; and Barnett Rosenberg, developer of Cisplatin, one of the world’s most effective anti-cancer drugs.

More faculty will be added throughout the years.

“This place helps us appreciate the history and tradition of Michigan State University,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “It represents what it means to be a Spartan, to build on our history with a vision for the future.”

The plaza was designed with input from students from the MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction’s landscape architecture program. The final design was refined by staff from MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities.

Constructed in 1900, Morrill Hall first served as a women’s residence hall. Last year the building was vacated and demolished after it was determined that it had suffered irreparable deterioration.

It was named in honor of Justin Smith Morrill, the Vermont senator for whom the Morrill Act – which brought about the establishment of the land-grant university – is named.

The Morrill Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862.


By: Tom Oswald