Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, announced that its newest residence hall will be named to honor Maya Angelou, who served as the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at the university from 1982 until her death in 2014. The building will be the first on the Wake Forest campus to be named for an African American.
The new residence hall will be ready in January for some students who have been studying abroad this semester. Then the building will be ready for occupancy by first-year students in the fall of 2017. The 76,110-square-foot residence hall was designed to house 224 students.
Professor Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis in 1928. Her brother gave her the nickname Maya and she adopted the last name Angelou in the 1950s, which she adapted from her first husband’s surname.
In 1969, Professor Angelou published the critically acclaimed I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Random House), a story about her growing up in the racially segregated South. It was nominated for the National Book Award. She followed up this memoir with five additional autobiographical works. In 1993 she read her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. In 2011, President Obama presented Professor Angelou with the Medal of Freedom.