University of Maryland to Name New Residence Hall for Two Black Student Pioneers

The University of Maryland announced recently that two of its new residence halls will be named after four trailblazers who played an important role in diversifying its campus. This is the first time since 1914 that residence halls will be named for individuals.

One residence hall will honor the first Korean student to receive a degree from any American college or university and the first Chinese student to enroll at what is nnow the University of Maryland.

Whittle-Johnson Hall will honor Hiram Whittle, the first African American male to be admitted to the university in 1951, and Elaine Johnson Coates, the first African American woman to graduate with an undergraduate degree in 1959. Whittle was an engineering major and enrolled as an undergraduate student at a time when the university was still segregated. Johnson Coates attended the university on a full scholarship and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education.

“I am always humbled and so grateful to be honored by my alma mater,” said Johnson Coates. “I had no idea when I walked on to the campus of University of Maryland in 1955, that 65 years later, you would still be speaking of me. I’m thankful to the university for honoring me, for letting me know that my journey mattered, and now letting my journey become my legacy.”

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