The Various Residents of Worrell Hall

By on June 19, 2012

Worrell Hall in the early 1950s

In 1936 the Men’s Dormitory opened on campus after three years without a male residency facility for out-of-town students. The three story dormitory, like the other buildings on campus, was constructed to exemplify Bhutanese architectural style. The opening of the Men’s Dormitory was noted by the Flowsheet to be a “symbol of further increase in student enrollment.” Shortly after opening, the Men’s Dormitory was renamed in 1940 Worrell Hall in honor of Stephen Howard Worrell, the first dean of the School of Mines and Metallurgy.

In the 1940s and 1950s students considered Worrell Hall to house a diverse, athletic, and interesting collection of male students. The 1941 Flowsheet says the Worrell Hall residents represent “both sides of the political life,” “some people keep their rooms clean,” and “some of the boys are even presentable in nice society.” In the 1942 Flowsheet it is suggested that men of Worrell Hall often socialize with the women of Benedict Hall. “After meals and during the evenings, residents of the two dormitories could be found in the lounge in Benedict Hall dancing, playing cards, listening to the radio, and just talking.” The Flowsheet describes Benedict Hall in 1950 as “as a nice place, if one likes noise…Telephone ringing down the hall…No parking room in front, but a place to foot a football, practice a putt, burn a baseball…And afterwards, the midnight oil.”

In 1961 some students were suspected of setting of a small bomb outside the door of the dorm mother’s room. The Prospector reported that the bomb was a “huge firecracker of the Juarez variety and was taped to the outer door of the dorm mother’s room.” The firecracker left a two-inch hole in the door. Dean of Men, George C. McCarty   responded, “We’re not interested in that type of youngster at TW (Texas Western). This incident was very juvenile and a discredit to the student body.” By 1968 the quality of the male residents had changed from the noisy bomb-planting characters of the past. The Flowsheet described the men of Worrell Hall as being “first class, whether in a vette or on a test. These dorm students, many of whom are on scholarship, must maintain a 3.0 overall grade point average.” The residents had “unique intellectual and musical record to add.”

By the 1970’s Worrell transformed from a men’s dormitory to a building housing offices and classrooms. Since being repurposed, Worrell Hall has primarily accommodated the departments of Philosophy, Women’s Studies, and Religious Studies, as well as offices for advisors and students in the Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Masters of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. The Philosophy Department continues to call Worrell Hall home.

[Sources: UTEP collection in Special Collections at Library; Heritage House Flowsheet collection; Undergraduate Catalog Archive, http://academics.utep.edu/Default.aspx?PageContentMode=1&tabid=92839; The Prospector, February 11, 1961.]

Ashley Swarthout was a student in the Masters of Arts in Teaching English program at UTEP. She graduated in May 2013 and is now teaches dual credit at Chapin High School.