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Roskens Hall: An Educator's Dream

by Charles Reed

Anyone who trekked back and forth from the Milo Bail Student Center to the Arts and Sciences Building, or, for that matter, anyone who drove past the UNO campus on Dodge Street, likely noticed a wealth of construction over the summer at Roskens Hall. The building was once the home of the College of Business Administration (CBA), but now it is home to the UNO College of Education.

Strauss in 1973

Back in 2010, with the CBA moving to the newly built Mammel Hall at the Pacfic Street Campus location, it was decided that Roskens Hall would be given a facelift. On Aug. 19, 2010 a ground-breaking ceremony took place at Roskens, to signal the beginning of construction, which was largely completed by the first day of school for Fall 2011. In fact, on August 22, 2011, almost one year to the day construction began, hundreds of students were walking through the halls of Roskens on their way to class.

While much as been written on what is included in the new building, many are likely unaware of the history of Roskens Hall.

Roskens Hall officially began construction as the generically-named "Classroom-Office" building on Oct. 9, 1973 as a $3.7 million project under the guidance of then-chancellor Ronald Roskens and then-dean of the College of Business Administration, Dr. William Muse. Upon completion, the name would change, but was just as generic, now being called the "College of Business Administration Building."

According to a university press release from 1974, the building’s biggest features at the time were the lower-level lecture hall, which featured electrically-powered turntable-based classrooms, which could be ‘turned’ to create one large lecture space, and soundproof walls.

For decades the building remained unchanged, seeing generations of UNO students go through each of its classrooms. However, in 2000, nearly 30 years after he oversaw the construction of the building, it was dubbed “Roskens Hall” in honor of Ronald Roskens and his wife Lois.

Ronald Roskens served as Chancellor of UNO from 1972 to 1977 before being named president of the University of Nebraska system, which gave him oversight of not just UNO, but the campuses in Lincoln in Kearney, as well as the University of Nebraska Medical Center. It was position Roskens held until his retirement in 1989.

The construction of the CBA building was just one of the numerous projects that Roskens helped along during his time as both UNO chancellor and NU president.

Strauss in 1973

Like Roskens, the building was, and continues to be, a unique landmark on campus. The year-long construction added many new features to the building, including a high-tech collaboration space called the IDEAS Room and dedicated space for special education classrooms that teach everything from sign language to speech pathology, but also mainted many familiar features; namely the grotto-style pit to the east of the building, as well as its characteristic "L" shape.

However, it is fitting that, of all the colleges to take over Roskens Hall, it will be the College of Education that can call the building its new home. If Ronald Roskens is known for one thing, it is his dedication to education and leadership. Therefore, the renovations are not just important as the new home of the College of Education, but also as a reaffirmation that the legacy of UNO's former chancellor, and one of its strongest advocates, will continue to survive on campus for another 40 years and beyond.

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