Regents Name Building ‘William A. and Christene Merick Residence Hall’

by News Bureau on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Dec. 15, 2011 – The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents today named Southeast’s newest residence hall overlooking Houck Stadium the William A. and Christene Merick Residence Hall.

The Southeast Missouri University Foundation recently received the family estate of the late Christene Merick of Catron, Mo., valued at $4.3 million, as an unrestricted gift to support education.

“The Mericks spent most of their lives helping others, especially in the pursuit of education,” said Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University. “With Mrs. Merick’s bequest, her boundless generosity and that of her late husband, William Albert Merick, will continue to be felt in perpetuity.”

Dobbins said both Mr. and Mrs. Merick were raised from humble beginnings – he on a farm north of Morehouse, Mo., and she on a farm east of Parma, Mo. Mr. Merick graduated from Southeast in 1935 with a Bachelor of Science in education. During his time at Southeast, he was involved in several clubs and activities, including being a member of the football team. Mr. Merick played in the first game ever played in Houck Stadium, Dobbins said. “Both Mr. and Mrs. Merick had a love of education,” he said.

Mrs. Merick began teaching in a one-room schoolhouses. After teaching full time for several years, she retired in 1957, yet she continued to teach part time in Bernie, Mo., for another 10 years. Mr. Merick also began his teaching career in one-room schoolhouses. He was a long-time school administrator in southeast Missouri, serving in different positions in several area communities over the course of 30 years.

The building now named “William A. and Christene Merick Residence Hall” opened in fall 2009 and, until now, has been known as “New Hall.” The $23.7 million, 82,000-square-foot, L-shaped residence hall is near the University gateway at the corner of Broadway and Henderson, with one side of it overlooking Houck Stadium.

The building features 306 beds in suite style community living with double occupancy student rooms that are connected by a shared foyer entryway. Merick Hall is situated adjacent to Myers Hall with 204 beds and Vandiver Hall with 293 beds.

Merick Hall has multiple small living rooms throughout the building, a computer lab, wireless access, a large game room, laundry room and hearth room overlooking Houck Stadium, study lounges on each floor and a dining facility, Olive’s, on the first floor. Part of the ground level that opens on to Houck Field us used as a locker room for the University’s football and soccer programs. A series of paved courtyards, that includes an outdoor eating area, is situated in an open area between Merick and Vandiver halls.

Merick hall features the latest in security with each student resident having their ID encoded to allow them access to interior foyers to gain elevator access and entrance to the floor on which they reside. As a resident accesses a door, their entry is recorded in real time. In the event of an emergency, staff members have the ability to reprogram the door in real time to deny access to enhance resident safety.

Merick Hall is home to many of Southeast’s learning and themed housing communities such as business, science, health science and visual and performing arts.

“These communities are tailored towards first and second year students with the active involvement of the college department or college in the programming for that learning community,” said Dr. Bruce Skinner, director of Residence Life. “Learning Communities at Southeast Missouri State University have been developed to provide students with a residential experience that ties together what they are learning in the classroom with what they are seeing and experiencing outside the classroom. This is accomplished through programming that connects students to the faculty who are providing their instruction in an environment that is comfortable and familiar to the student, thus enhancing the overall academic experience.”