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Almetris Duren Residence Hall Dedication Oct. 12 Honors Woman Who Inspired Black Students at The University of Texas at Austin

Almetris Duren Hall, named in honor of a woman who nurtured and inspired the first black freshmen students to integrate The University of Texas at Austin, will be dedicated during a campus ceremony at 3 p.m. on Oct. 12.

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AUSTIN, Texas—Almetris Duren Hall, named in honor of a woman who nurtured and inspired the first black freshmen students to integrate The University of Texas at Austin, will be dedicated during a campus ceremony at 3 p.m. on Oct. 12.

"A Celebration of Progress, An Affirmation of Promise" is the theme for the ceremony in the spacious courtyard of Almetris Duren Hall, the newest and most modern dormitory on the campus, at the corner of Guadalupe and 27th streets. Dr. Floyd Hoelting, director of the Division of Housing and Food Service, part of the Division of Student Affairs, said the ceremony is expected to draw numerous black alumni whose lives and careers were influenced by "Mama" Duren.

Duren became a housemother, friend, adviser and mentor to black students when The University of Texas at Austin became integrated in 1956. For a quarter century she motivated them and many other students on campus to strive for success academically and as individuals. She was founder of the first minority recruitment program, Project Info, and the Innervisions Gospel Choir. She retired in 1980 and died in 2000. She was recipient of the Margaret Berry Award for outstanding contributions to student life, the Presidential Citation and the Southwest Association of College and University Housing Officers Distinguished Service Award.

Hoelting said the 3-5 p.m. celebration is open to the public but urged early registration to help planners prepare for the ceremony and associated weekend events. William Powers Jr., president of the university, is scheduled to provide the welcoming speech. Innervisions Gospel Choir and the Huston-Tillotson Concert Choir will perform at the celebration. The online registration sites are at Almetris Duren Residence Hall Celebration at the Division of Housing and Food Service and at 2007 UT Black Alumni Reunion Weekend at the Texas Exes, the university’s alumni association.

"Almetris Duren was one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime, a natural resource to thousands of University of Texas students," said Hoelting. "She saw a need and filled it, witnessed an opportunity and met it, and withstood the challenges of the time. In her own loving way, she succeeded in spite of all. She found young people in desperate need of a mentor and friend and she became both."

Hoelting said the 588-bed, residence hall opened to its first residents in January. It features double occupancy rooms with private bathrooms, data and cable connections in each room and wireless access throughout. The 175,000-square-foot building has a Terra Cotta Ludowici Spanish tile roof and features "Azteca" Seneca quarry tile flooring in the lobby and first floor common areas. The formal lounge is outfitted with a baby grand piano, native Texas hand hewn mesquite and pecan furnishings and native Texas leather furnishings.

A bronze bust of Duren will be in the lounge prior to the dedication-celebration. The spacious courtyard is graced in the center by a 100-year-old live oak tree and is a popular gathering place for many residents. The ventilation system includes a total energy recovery wheel, which is a special green feature that recovers energy from exhaust air, adding to the energy efficiency of the building.

Hoelting said the Division of Housing and Food Service, has worked on the celebration project in collaboration with The Texas Exes and Black Alumni Steering Committee, Multicultural Information Center, Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Center for African and African American Studies, University Residence Hall Association and other campus organizations. The Duren Hall program will be followed by a reception and tours of the hall and a Texas Exes Black Alumni Legacy Dinner later that evening. The Oct. 13 events are to include a campus organizations reunion brunch, campus sites of interest tours and a "Soul Night Revisited" dance at the Crowne Plaza Austin Hotel. 

For more information contact: Robert D. Meckel, Office of Public Affairs, 512-475-7847.