A revitalized residence hall

“Lawther Hall is the coolest building I have ever been in.”

You’d be hard pressed to find a better endorsement than that, which came from Maria Renken, a sophomore criminology and psychology double major at UNI. Renken lived in Campbell Hall last year as a freshman and is a resident of the reopened Lawther Hall this fall.

Lawther Hall

“I think it’s cool that we kept a lot of what Lawther Hall used to be while transforming it into something even better.”

The 78-year-old residence hall was closed from the fall semester of 2015 through the summer of 2017 for much needed renovations. Prior to the remodel, the facility was not accessible to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), lacked air conditioning and a fire suppression system, and had a high level of deferred maintenance.

Now, Lawther Hall, which offers housing for 401 UNI students, has been revitalized.

The renovated building has three accessible entrances and an elevator, electronic card access for enhanced student security, air conditioning and a fire suppression system, new finishes and furnishings, and single and suite-style rooms with private and semi-private bathrooms.

It hasn’t taken long for new residents to notice the updates.

“When I first saw my room, I was shocked at how modern it looked,” said Jared Girres, a junior criminology and political science double major who lived in Rider Hall for two years before moving into Lawther Hall this fall. “It did not represent the typical dorm at all.”

As an upperclassman, Girres also mentioned he appreciates that Lawther is geared towards older students, with a level of individualism you might otherwise find in Panther Village.

Renken lists the air conditioning, wood floors and ample amount of space among her top amenities, but she also points out that not all of the old was tossed out for the new.

“My favorite thing about the renovations is that it still has bits and pieces from before it was renovated,” said Renken, citing an all-girls dorm plaque as an example. “I think it’s cool that we kept a lot of what Lawther used to be while transforming it into something even better.”

In fact, even a portrait of the building’s namesake, Anna B. Lawther, holds a place of honor within the building. She was the first woman appointed to Iowa’s State Board of Education in 1921, a position she would hold for the next 20 years.

The hall that bears her name has been housing the students of UNI for 78 years and, thanks to these latest improvements, will hopefully be a home to our students for at least 78 more.

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