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UI To Name New Residence Hall For African-American Artist

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Iowa Women's Archives, Shirley Briggs Papers
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Elizabeth Catlett was once of the first three MFA graduates from the University of Iowa in 1940.

The University of Iowa is proposing naming a new residence hall in honor of an African American graduate who couldn’t live in the dorms because she is black.

Elizabeth Catlett received a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the UI in 1940.

While attending as a graduate student, Catlett lived off campus.   The UI’s dormitories weren’t open to African American students until Betty Jean Arnett desegregated Currier Hall in 1945.

Catlett went on to be a renowned artist, and now supports a scholarship for African American or Latino students majoring in printmaking.

Today, a Board of Regents committee approved the UI’s naming request.  It’ll go to the full Regents Board for approval Thursday.

If that’s approved, the new dorm will be named the Elizabeth Catlett Residence Hall, a 12-story building overlooking the Iowa River, and providing housing to more than a thousand students beginning in Fall 2017.  It’ll be the UI’s largest residence hall.