MUBG Philanthropy

MSA Alumni fund MUBG Tribute Bench near site of former Read Hall

MU’s Read Hall opened its doors in 1903 as the first women’s dormitory on campus. It was named after Daniel Read, president of the university from 1863 to 1876, who opened the University to women. It eventually served as the student union and was home to student government offices as well as the “Maneater” and “Savitar” before becoming home to the history department in the 1980s.


In 2019, a group of students who from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s served in student government roles and spent a lot of creative time together in Read Hall during their college days decided to get together for a “45th annual farewell party”.


“We all held various positions in MSA [Missouri Student Association] over the years, and some of us have stayed in touch,” said Sally Macnamara, who graduated in 1974. “I served as president of the Association of Women Students, one of several roles in my time as a student.


“Most of us grew up to be doctors or lawyers or had other assorted careers.”


Macnamara said structured reunion events included a luncheon at the Reynolds Alumni Center with the President of the University of Missouri System, Mun Choi, the then University of Missouri-Columbia chancellor, Alexander Cartwright, and Professor Emeritus William Bondeson. The group also enjoyed walking tours of the Francis Quadrangle, including Jesse Hall and Peace Park, and walking down the Lowry Street Mall [which they lobbied for].


They also visited Read Hall.


Being back together to catch up and reminisce about their student days was so enjoyable they decided to get together again, but Covid delayed the group’s plans.


In the meantime, MU leadership unveiled a Space Reduction and Strategic Relocation Plan to demolish several buildings on campus avoiding cost prohibitive repair, maintenance and operating costs. Read Hall was on the list.


Students who objected to the removal of what they felt was a historically important structure got together and initiated a petition to save the structure. Catherine Hutinett, a senior history major, was among them.


“Catherine went to the Missouri Historical Society and looked at old issues of the Maneater and saw our names in print and reached out for our support,” Macnamara said.


The student government reunion group complained but when they reconvened on campus last October, Read Hall was a memory.


Macnamara said that one of the group’s members, Dr. Betsy Garrett, serves on the Friends of Mizzou Botanic Garden (MUBG) board of directors. Garrett suggested the group consider sponsorship of one of two MUBG Tribute Benches at the site of Read Hall. All agreed.


“We are still raising funds but while we were together, we decided what we wanted on the plaque:


           Dedicated to Read Hall

           and to all who called it home



"The bench will always be there even though we won’t always be around,” Macnamara said. “When we visit, we can sit on it and fondly remember our days in Read Hall, our involvement in MSA and the impact that we had on the campus.”

MU Alumni fondly remember time spent in Read Hall

While back on campus for a reunion in 2022, a group of students who fondly spent time in Read Hall in the 1960s and 70s when it served as home to student government offices as well as the “Maneater” and “Savitar” decided to fund a MUBG Tribute Bench to commemorate the time they spent together and the experiences they shared. Left to right are, Chip Casteel, Rick Gevers, Megan Gannon Evans, Susan Chaffin Matthews, Douglas Viehland, Sally Macnamara, Betsy Garrett, Greg Evans and Dan Viets.