Building a Legacy

The namesakes emblazoned across the outer facades of our classrooms and dorms make campus buildings a part of Marquette culture, and while the people behind these names share in the same honor, the way they got there is never the same story.


“Each building is evaluated on an individual basis and isn’t always named in honor of an individual’s philanthropy to the university,” said Dan DeWeerdt, senior director for engagement communication and events with the alumni association. “Some buildings on campus have been named in honor of extraordinary individuals who made an exceptional contribution to Marquette’s students, alumni, faculty and the community.”

Gifts to the university aren’t always measured in dollar signs, but Marquette still has a tradition of generous alumni.

“I’m always impressed with the amount of money for building projects the university comes up with, and not all from tuition, but from donors,” said James Scotton, an associate professor in the College of Communication who came to Marquette in 1978.

The monumental amount of brick, steel and concrete underlying the foundation of Marquette may just turn out to be a whole lot of brick, steel and concrete. But for those connected to Marquette, there’s a deeper meaning to it all. Every building has a name, and every name, a legacy.

 

MCCORMICK

In some respects, the legacy of Victor McCormick is as tumultuous as life in the iconic Marquette residence hall bearing his name. McCormick, a 1922 graduate of Marquette’s Law School, made his fortune primarily through a series of lucrative investments in the Proctor and Gamble, Corp. Alumnus of the year in 1952, McCormick then became only the second person to receive the Founder of Marquette designation in response to a $2.5 million donation that went into the construction of McCormick Hall. This donation was the largest single donation at the time. In 1976, McCormick suffered a debilitating heart attack and his estate went under the control of his wife. Both Marquette and St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., filed lawsuits to collect the remainder of pledged donations. McCormick passed away in 1987 at age 88.

WEHR

By the mid-1960s, Marquette was in desperate need of new classrooms. Then president of the university, the Rev. Edward J. O’Donnell, traveled to Libertyville, Ill. to visit former Wehr Steel Co. chairman, Milwaukee native and philanthropist Todd Wehr. It was during this visit that Wehr reportedly asked O’Donnell how much it would take to construct a building to honor his family. O’Donnell told Wehr what Marquette needed, and several weeks later, Wehr wrote a check for $2.2 million.

The three-building complex consists of the Todd Wehr Chemistry building, a physics building named after Wehr’s brother, William, and a life sciences building named for the entire Wehr family. But the Wehr name isn’t exclusive to Marquette. Through a personal foundation, much of Wehr’s estate went to charities and universities across Wisconsin, including the Milwaukee School of Engineering, and the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

 

CUDAHY

Home of the math, statistics and computer science departments, Cudahy Hall is named after the mother of a famous Milwaukee businessman from a famous Wisconsin family. Katharine Reed Cudahy, for whom Cudahy Hall is named, is the mother of Michael Cudahy, founder of Marquette Electronics, a manufacturer of medical monitoring equipment. Michael’s grandfather is Patrick Cudahy, and if you need any proof of his cultural significance, go seven miles south of campus to the city of Cudahy, Wis., home of the Patrick Cudahy meatpacking plant. Michael’s business success allowed him to subsidize a substantial portion of the $12 million construction cost of the building in honor of his mother, who grew up in a house that once stood in the middle of campus. Michael Cudahy’s philanthropy extends all across Milwaukee, including his donations to cultural landmarks like the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Pabst and Riverside theaters and the Milwaukee Ballet.

 

STRAZ

David A. Straz Jr., Business Administration ‘65, has two buildings on campus named after him. There’s Straz Tower, the former Milwaukee YMCA, also known as East Hall until its rededication in 2000, and Straz Hall, the home of Marquette’s College of Business Administration.

After attending law school at Marquette, Straz went into the banking business, purchasing his first bank at age 25. From then on, Straz was extremely successful, buying and selling banks across Wisconsin and Southern Florida. He was chairman of the board of the Southern Exchange Bank in Tampa, Fla., where there is also a performing arts center named after him.

Straz kept close ties to Marquette, saying at the dedication of Straz Hall in 1984, “The education I received at Marquette University contributed greatly to my success. As a result, I am very proud of the on-going relationship I have with my alma mater.”

 

CARPENTER

M. Carpenter Tower is unique in that it bears the name of three different Carpenters who just happen to share the same first initial. The first ‘M’ is for Michael Carpenter, who founded the Carpenter Baking Company in the 1800s. Michael is the original patriarch of the Carpenter family, but it was two of his children, Mary Carpenter and Matthew Carpenter who were Marquette benefactors. When Michael died in 1926, it was Matthew who took over the baking company, which he ran until his death in 1950, while also acting as a member of Marquette’s board of governors. By the time Marquette purchased the former Catholic Knights Tower in 1960, it was Mary Carpenter who made the financial contribution to the university in honor of her father and brother. Mary passed away in 1975, but not before witnessing Carpenter Tower become the first coed residence hall at Marquette in 1972.

MASHUDA

While Mashuda Hall is probably most famous for hosting The Beatles in 1964, there’s a history to the building beyond the one overnight stay of the Fab Four. The Coach House Motor Inn The Beatles stayed in was eventually renamed the Holiday Inn-Central, and it kept that name until 1979. This was when Josephine Hallman Mashuda, the widow of Frank Mashuda, made a significant donation shortly after Marquette purchased the building. The name changed to Mashuda Hall. Frank Mashuda was the founder of the earth moving contractor Mashuda Corp., and when he died, Josephine Mashuda’s longtime friend, then university president the Rev. John Raynor, convinced her to give money to help transform the hotel into an upperclassman residence hall.

Mashuda Hall is actually the second Holiday Inn to house Marquette students. The first was a former university building called West Hall, located near 20th street.

 

COBEEN

Another hotel-turned-dormitory on campus, Cobeen Hall is named after the one and only “Mr. Student Union” himself, Charles Cobeen.

By the time Cobeen graduated from the College of Business Administration in 1920, he had already cemented his legacy on campus. During his senior year, alongside future Jesuit and Marquette president the Rev. Peter Brooks, Cobeen helped organize Marquette’s first student union. With Brooks as president of the union and Cobeen as business manager, the union was the first of its kind in providing a relaxing area for students. Even after his graduation, Cobeen stayed on as the business manager of the union until 1947, when he became business manager of the entire university.

It was some time later in 1966, two years after Marquette purchased the LaSalle Hotel building, that the building was dedicated in honor of the man who really made the union.

 

LALUMIERE

Love or hate the architectural decisions that went into the design, Lalumiere Hall was named after arguably the most important person in Marquette history, the Rev. Stanislaus Lalumiere. In 1861, under the direction of the first Archbishop of Milwaukee, John Martin Henni, Lalumiere purchased a plot of land at 10th and State streets, the very beginnings of Marquette College and the cornerstone of what is now Marquette University.

Following a period after the fledgling school got on its feet, Lalumiere was named president of Marquette in 1881, but due to chronic health problems, Lalumiere served only one year as president.

Although his tenure was cut short, Lalumiere’s place in Marquette history was pretty much assured. While other buildings bore his name in the past, it wasn’t until 1971 that the currently Lalumiere Language Hall was dedicated as we know it today.