press release


Newly constructed Ackerman Hall opens for students, ribbon cutting to be held

for release: Sept. 14, 2010

MONMOUTH – On Sept. 19, about 300 students will move in to Ackerman Hall, Western Oregon University’s (WOU) new residence hall, to start the 2010-11 school year. This state of the art facility with living, academic and meeting space, was designed and constructed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification, the highest available, and would be the first large-scale, new construction residence hall with that level of certification in the country.

A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 12:30 p.m. Speakers include WOU President John Minahan, Tina Fuchs, dean of students, Lindsay Gibson, president of WOU Residence Hall Association, Kurt Haapala of Mahlum Architects, Bart Ricketts of Lease Crutcher Lewis contractor, and descendants of the former WOU president that the building is named after (John Henry Ackerman), siblings James Carleton, Fred Carleton and Pat Cooper.

Ackerman Hall has numerous features that promote "green" and sustainable living, which will develop an awareness and habit of action for the students living in the building. Some highlights of the building include a rainwater harvesting tank that will be used for toilet flushing water. The outdoor courtyard surface is covered with Filter Pave (recycled glass, one of the first installations in the West Coast) that allows water to filter through the material and absorb in the soil, as opposed to storm drains taking the water to be chemically treated. Some trees were removed from The Grove after severe storm damage in 2008 and a few for construction, but the wood has been repurposed in several places in the building from tables to wall paneling.

Also, solar ducts were installed to help heat the outside air prior to bringing it into the building and solar water ducts help to head the water, thus reducing energy costs. The building is expected to have 50 percent less water usage and 45 percent less energy usage than similar-sized residence halls. The lights in resident rooms go out after a period of inactivity. There are also "green plugs" in addition to normal electrical outlets that turn off when the lights do, which is great for items not used as frequently (e.g. printers, battery chargers). The walls throughout the building have three-times the amount of insulation required by code to help reduce energy costs and the elevators will use vegetable oil as opposed to hydraulic oil. Also, there will be an energy monitoring board in the main lobby showing energy usage for each 33-person community in the building, in hopes that a competition for low energy usage will be fostered.

John Henry Ackerman was President of Oregon Normal School from 1911 to 1921. Ackerman’s commitment to students was paramount to his mission both during his entire career and while he was president of Oregon Normal School. In 1911, Ackerman tackled the task of reopening the Oregon State Normal School in Monmouth, which had closed the previous year due to lack of state funding. Ackerman reopened the school and served as president of the newly renamed Oregon Normal School. As president, Ackerman oversaw the construction of many new buildings on campus, including the school’s first dormitory, later named Todd Hall, and the gymnasium, now known as Maple Hall. In 1920, Ackerman fought for the passage of a millage bill to establish adequate and stable funding for the ONS. He was also a support of tax measures designed to improve the conditions of rural schools which saw substantial improvement during his tenure.

Another highlight of Ackerman’s career was the effort he made to create a more diversified and strong faculty. It was the usual practice among normal schools and colleges, particularly in the pioneer west, to employ a substantial number of their own graduates as teachers. It is notable that Ackerman avoided this practice. Ackerman sought to recruit faculty from other parts of the country. Ackerman died of a sudden stroke in 1921 and he left behind a legacy of family, friends and students that greatly admired him and his work to improve educational standards and quality in Oregon.

More information about Ackerman Hall, visit

aerial view of residence hall construction

# # #



Western Oregon University | 345 N. Monmouth Ave. | Monmouth OR 97361 | 503-838-8000(V/TTY) | 1-877-1593