Skip to main content

New human ecology building will have new name

July 13, 2011

When the School of Human Ecology opens its doors on its new and renovated building on Linden Drive in 2012, it will have a new name.

Nancy Nicholas Hall will honor Nancy Johnson Nicholas, who graduated from the school in 1955 and with husband Albert “Ab” Nicholas provided the $8 million lead gift to the $52 million construction project.

This is the first exclusive-use academic building on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus to be named in honor of a woman. Helen C. White Hall was constructed in 1969 to house the College Library and English department. Only two other campus buildings — Susan B. Davis Residence Hall and Elizabeth Waters Residence Hall — bear the name of individual women.

“I’m grateful to Nancy Nicholas for her vision and generosity to enhance human ecology’s capacity for excellence in education, research, creative endeavor, and outreach,” says Robin A. Douthitt, dean of the School of Human Ecology. “I’m pleased that our new building name will carry the name of an alumna who embodies the school’s mission to improve the quality of life for people in all circumstances and environments.”

The School of Human Ecology has four departments, employs 325 people, enrolls about 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and has a budget of about $15 million. Undergraduate students major in eight unique programs. The oldest is Human Development and Family Studies and the newest is Community and Nonprofit Leadership. Graduate students earn MS, MFA, or Ph.D. degrees.

The new facility features expanded space for a state-of-the-art preschool and adjacent Francis Lehman Family Research Interaction Laboratory, which will be the first on-campus preschool research facility to include infants and young toddlers.

Constructed in 1913, the Human Ecology Building has had few renovations since a west wing was added in 1953. Other significant new improvements will be the creation of a technology-rich environment and gathering spaces that encourage interdisciplinary work and interactions among faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students.