UD names building to honor first African American woman graduate

On Friday, University of Dayton officials announced the campus computer science building would be named to honor the first African American woman to graduate from the university.

The newly renovated building will be named after Jessie Hathcock, who graduated in 1930 with a bachelor’s degree in education.

“Jessie Hathcock’s life includes an extraordinary record as an educator and community leader, achieving success through courage and perseverance,” said President Eric F. Spina. “She was a true pioneer and dedicated to serving others with empathy and compassion.

According to the release Hathcock taught in Dayton public schools for 34 years.

She was also the Dean of Girls and an English teacher at Dunbar High School. She touched the lives of thousands of students through organizing the Dunbar PTA, and serving for many years as faculty sponsor of the student council, Junior Council on World Affairs, and the Junior Red Cross.

“Naming the building for this trailblazing woman will make her life and her story visible to generations of UD students, inspiring them to continue her legacy of educational excellence, humanitarianism and community activism,” Spina said.

According to the university website, in addition to serving the Dayton community through education, she worked with the City Beautiful Council, the Wegerzyn Garden Board and the American Association of University Women. A global citizen, she traveled the world, was active in the Dayton Council on World Affairs, and founded the Dayton and Miami Valley Committee for UNICEF.

Hathcock also was a charter member of Beta Eta Omega, Dayton, Ohio, chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and served as its first president in 1934.

She was selected as one of the Ten Top Women in Dayton in 1966 for her humanitarian efforts and civic pride, she was a longtime member of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Dayton.

In 1978, she received an honorary doctorate in humanities from the University of Dayton.

In her words of thanks to the university, she stated, “May the University of Dayton continue to grow in influence for the betterment of our city and may its doors of learning be forever open to all races, creeds and nationalities, for the Glory of God, who taught us the meaning of brotherhood and the oneness of mankind.”

According to the university website, Hathcock Hall, the former Music/Theatre Building, will be the new home for the Department of Computer Science. The 58,000-square-foot project includes new classroom, laboratory and office spaces, as well as an enclosed walkway to connect the facility to Kettering Labs.

The University of Dayton plans to hold a formal dedication in the fall, should the pandemic conditions allow according to the release.

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