Oct. 22, 2007
By George Mauzy | Photos by Rick Fatica
Friday's dedication ceremony for Ohio University's new Alvin C. Adams Residence Hall wasn't just about the beautiful, new home for students. It was about the inspiring legacy of its namesake.
Adams became the university's first African-American journalism graduate in 1959 and went on to an impressive career in journalism and public relations. But it was his personal side that friends and family remembered when some 250 people gathered outside the building Friday.
Amelia Marie Adams described her father as a kind and caring man who always put others first. "He was a thoughtful person, who never discouraged people," she said. "What mattered to him was that everyone followed their dreams -- whatever made them happy."
A. Clay Adams III said his father grew up poor and had an unstable family life. But he didn't let those things discourage him; instead, he used them as a source of strength.
"He didn't live or die a rich man, but because of the greatness of his heart, the kindness of his words and the generosity of his spirit, he lived and died as the wealthiest man I have ever known," Clay said.
Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith's voice cracked with emotion when he recalled the moment he told Ada Adams that the university was considering naming the hall for her husband. "There was just silence for at least a minute before she cried and said, 'I just can't believe it.' To be the first person to tell her that this was a possibility was precious."
Smith said the students who suggested naming the residence hall after an African-American deserve much of the credit. Among them was recent graduate William Tarter.
"After an article in The Post brought attention to the fact that the new residence hall didn't have a name, a few of us decided to take the idea of naming it after a prominent African-American to Dr. Smith, the president and the Board of Trustees," Tarter said. "They were all receptive, and what you see today is the result."
President Roderick McDavis also was among those to address the crowd. "What a great day in the history of Ohio University," he said. "Today will live in the memories of many of us for a long time because Alvin left a wonderful legacy."
Family and friends traveled from near and far to honor Adams, who died in 2004.
Steve and Shirley Swarthout drove from Decatur, Ill. "I never worked with anyone that I held in higher regard," said Shirley, who worked with Adams for more than 15 years at Illinois Power Co. "What a wonderful role model he is for college students."
After the ceremony, Ada Woodson-Adams reflected on the day. "I'm overwhelmed and very happy," she said. "Even as a journalist, Alvin would not have been able to put today's historical event into words."
Guests also had an opportunity to tour Adams Hall, which is designed to house 350 students. Located between Nelson Dining Hall and the enclosed tennis courts, it is the first residence hall to open on the Athens campus since 1972. Its unique configuration combines the convenience of suite living, the close interaction of a traditional corridor-style residence hall, and the community building that comes from shared living and learning spaces.