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Which way? Shared names abound on KU campuses

If a faculty or staff member asked someone on the Lawrence campus to meet them at Murphy Hall, chances are the invitee would find his or her way there. But they could end up on the KU Medical Center campus and still, arguably, be in the right place.

Steam tunnel map crop

Illustration, Corey Stone/University Relations

Several names, such as Pearson, are duplicated across KU's campuses. No policy against duplication is in place, but a formal procedure for naming facilities must be followed.

That's because both campuses have a Murphy Hall. In fact, there are nine buildings that share names between the campuses. The repetition is not an oversight. Names of campus buildings are carefully chosen and go through an extensive approval process. And if the name works once, it can work twice.

Warren Corman, university architect, said a 12-member committee that reports to the provost is the first to propose building names. If the provost accepts the name, he passes it on to the chancellor. If the chancellor agrees it is a fitting name, he will in turn send a letter to Kansas Board of Regents members. The regents then have ultimate approval of a proposed name.

There is no policy against repetition, Corman said. Often buildings are named for former chancellors, beloved faculty members or substantial donors, so there is rarely a complaint about reusing a moniker.

Sound familiar?

  • Shared names between the Lawrence and KU Medical Center campuses: Eaton, Lied, Miller, Murphy, Robinson, Smith, Spencer, Sudler and Wescoe.
  • Similarities: Regnier (Edwards Campus) and Rieger, Dykes and Dyche, Stouffer and Stauffer.
  • Names that show up on the Lawrence campus more than once: Spencer, Pearson, Watkins, Amini, Anschutz, Marvin, McCollum, Dole, Anderson.

While the potential for cross-campus confusion exists, it is simple enough to avoid given the fact people generally know on which campus the person or department they are doing business with is located. But the duplicate names are surely enough to make a mail carrier's life miserable, right?

"We really don't have a whole lot of trouble or confusion," said Jim Richey, a Lawrence campus mail deliverer. "People are usually very good about designating if they want something to go to the medical center."

Campus mail sorts packages by department name, not building. However, there is overlap in departments between all of KU's campuses, so "KU Medical Center" or "Edwards Campus" should be written on the envelope if a letter is intended for someone outside the Lawrence campus.

Corman said he doesn't encounter much trouble from the repetition.

"I don't think there's ever been much of a problem," he said. "The only ones I find confusing are the Dole Institute of Politics and the Dole Center, and they're on the same campus."

The names of buildings often change over the years. Allen Fieldhouse, one of KU's best-known structures, is such an example. When it was being constructed, the structure was called "Physical Education Building." The onset of the Korean War made it difficult to secure steel for the building's large structural beams. Corman said university officials approached legislators in Washington, D.C., for help. It was suggested that if the building could somehow aid the war effort, perhaps the materials could be supplied. The building's existing plans were then all changed to show the name "Physical Education Building and Armory," and a room was added to the plans for weapons storage. The steel was supplied, and the war ended before it was ever used for military purposes. Legendary basketball coach Phog Allen's name was added later.

Corman said he and others who have been at KU a long time sometimes are confused not by repetition of names, but by the fact names are on some buildings at all. KU Medical Center buildings were originally designated with letters of the alphabet. It was only later that they started receiving names already on the Lawrence campus such as Smith, Robinson and Wescoe.

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