To the editor:
Elizabeth Miller Watkins built the first scholarship hall in the 1920s. Her dream was that young women of intelligence and ambition could afford a university education if there was low-cost housing available to them. She was personally involved with many of the decisions during construction and furnishing of the hall; receipts for the china she selected bear her signature.
She lived in Lawrence at 1532 Lilac Lane and built Watkins Hall at 1506 Lilac Lane. She was so pleased with her student neighborhood that she built Miller Hall even closer to her own home (1518 Lilac Lane). Over the years I have attended a variety of functions at 1532 Lilac Lane, hosted by at least five different university chancellors, and I have never sensed that the ambiance was harmed in any way by the student neighbors.
Due to the generosity of other KU benefactors, the university boasts several additional scholarship halls, including halls for members of the other gender. It is a special housing opportunity for young women and men of academic ability who wish to live in a cooperative situation where they share cooking and cleaning responsibilities while maintaining high academic standards. As a unique subset of KU's housing units, it is extremely important that the scholarship halls be located in the same area of campus for social and governance reasons.
I hope that the university proceeds with plans to build additional scholarship halls on Ohio Street. My husband and I were scholarship hall residents in the late 1960s. We are enthusiastic supporters of the "schol-hall" system (with a bias for Watkins and Battenfeld, of course). There are a number of educators, professionals and business people living in Lawrence who are schol-hall products. We are responsible and productive citizens. Our years in the scholarship halls were important formative experiences.
When people ask me why I am still interested in schools now that our children have all graduated, I reply that the person who takes care of my heart attack might be in school right now. Perhaps people questioning why we need additional scholarship halls should apply the same logic.