University of Iowa opens second new residence hall - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

University of Iowa opens second new residence hall

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The dedication of a new residence hall at the University of Iowa honors alumna sculptor, Elizabeth Catlett.

When Elizabeth Catlett, an African-American woman, was a student at the university from 1938-40, she wasn't allowed to live in the residence halls because of the color of her skin. Today, a residence hall now stands her name known as the Elizabeth Catlett Residence Hall.

The walls of the residence hall tell the story of Catlett's life and impact to all those that will walk through it. 

"For the U of I to make a stand to the principals that she lived by, the powerful statements through her art, discipline she evoked. It was about her humanity. It was about the dignity of people, of all people," Francisco Mora-Catlett, Catlett's son, said. Mora-Catlett was at the dedication of the hall on Friday. 

Catlett was one of first three students to earn a Master of Fine Arts at Iowa and was the first African-American woman to earn the degree. She chose to study at Iowa in order to study with Grant Wood. 

Her work often depicted African-American and Mexican women, mothers with children, and the working class.

Frederick Cherry Jr. will be one of the first students to live in the residence hall in the fall and will be one of the residence assistants. He praised the dedication of the building after Catlett.

"Often times African-American women achievements are overlooked like Malcolm X said like the most ignored, disrespected person in America is the black woman. It's like a beacon of hope," Cherry Jr. said.

Not only is Catlett Residence Hall the newest on-campus student living building, it's also the biggest. The building stands 12 floors tall and will soon be the home of 1,049 students. It features a new dining hall, workout facility, study lounges, and one of the best views on campus.

"Just looking all around me like its like a total upgrade, furniture, high-tech stuff, central air cause we didn't have central air. Stuff like that is amazing," Cherry Jr. said.

This is the second on-campus residence hall built since 1968. Mary Louise Peterson Hall opened in 2015. 

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