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Two campus buildings rechristened with not-quite-new names

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Two University buildings, the Conference Center and Alumni Hall, have been renamed.

The Conference Center is now Agnes Edwards Hall; Alumni Hall has been renamed Guillory Hall. Both buildings’ signage will be updated and campus maps will be revised to reflect the changes.

The Conference Center, on Rex Street, has reverted to its namesake. It opened on Sept. 8, 1965, as Agnes Edwards House, a privately financed and owned women’s dormitory. Edwards was a long-time dean of women.

The Alumni Association bought the dorm in the mid-1970s. It moved its headquarters into the building, which was renamed the Conference Center to reflect its use as a meeting facility and continuing education venue. Today, the building is the home of Career Services and offers suite-style student housing. A STEP lab and the Student-Athlete Academic Center also are there.

Edwards became dean of women of Southwestern Louisiana Institute in 1929, a position she held for 28 years. Her tenure paralleled the school’s growth “from a one-building industrial institute to a full-fledged college,” a newspaper noted at her retirement in 1957.

As dean, Edwards spearheaded construction of religious facilities for students and organized SLI’s Red Cross chapter during World War II. She started a clubroom where female commuter students could socialize, giving them, she said, “a home on the campus.” She also helped bring several national sorority chapters to SLI. 

Edwards received commendations from the National Association of Deans of Women and from the Lafayette Business and Professional Women. The Daily Advertiser observed in its Sept. 24, 1956, edition that “Every phase of her life has been aspiring and positive. There is nothing negative in her make-up, yet few people could be more modest.”

Alumni Hall, on Boucher Street, once housed the Alumni Association and later served for many years as the office for The Vermilion, UL Lafayette’s student newspaper.

The original Guillory Hall, across the street from Alumni Hall, was demolished in 2015 following renovation of the Student Union. Constructed in 1957, it was one of three buildings that made up the Memorial Student Union Complex. Over the years, it housed a cafeteria, hosted student plays and concerts, featured an eight-lane bowling alley, and was used as a study space.

The Guillory Hall name honors the late Isom J. Guillory Sr., a state legislator and judge from Acadiana. The October 1961 edition of Southwestern Alumni News called him “a staunch supporter and true friend” of the University.

 

Photo: The Conference Center on Rex Street was originally named in honor of Agnes Edwards, who served as dean of women for 28 years. The building opened in 1965 as a privately owned women's dormitory. 

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