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Sunday, December 21, 2014

UNM 125: Rodey Hall dedication memorable occasion

Saturday, January 23, 1909, the new assembly hall was formally dedicated to higher education

Printed Jan. 23, 1909

Saturday, January 23, 1909, will be a day long remembered at the University of New Mexico. The occasion was the dedication of the new Assembly building, Rodey Hall, named in honor of Judge Bernard S. Rodey, author of the bill creating the University. As it happened, the event fell on the 20th anniversary of the passage of the bill, as it was in the winter of 1889 that U.N.M. was born.

The Hall was dedicated before a large assemblage of students, faculty, and friends of the institution, which included the most prominent men of influence throughout the territory. The services were impressive, and the speeches were brilliant. Dr. Fletcher Cook, member of the board of regents and rector of St. John’s Episcopal church, read the dedicatory service and pronounced the invocation.

The University Glee Club furnished the music for the occasion in an able manner and received much applause.

Following are extracts from Judge Rodey’s letter and from the speeches of Hon. F.W. Clancy, President of the Regents; Hon. H.B. Fergusson, of the Bernalillo County bar; Hon. G. S. Klock, of the Bernalillo County bar; Governor George Curry, of New Mexico, and President W. G. Tight, of the University.

Introductory Remarks by President Tight

Twenty years ago next month a bill was introduced by Mr. Rodey that New Mexico be granted a territorial institution of learning. Mr. Rodey’s interest in this institution has never ceased, and he ever takes an active part in the affairs relating to it. When this hall was about to be erected , the senior class of 1908, of the U. of N.M. requested of the regents the privilege of naming it and of laying the cornerstone. These young students knew enough of the work of this man for the University that they decided to call this building “Roday Hall.” We are gathered here this afternoon to dedicate this building as Rodey Hall. We regret that it is impossible for Judge Rodey to be with us, but he has sent us a letter which I will ask the Dean of the University to read to you.

Judge Rodey’s Letter

San Juan, P.R., Dec. 30th, 1908, Professor C.E. Hodgin,

Albuquerque, New Mexico

My Dear Professor: Greetings and compliments of the season to yourself and all the rest of the faculty, and all the students of the University of New Mexico. I presume this letter will reach you too late to be read at the dedication of Rodey Hall. That unfortunate thing occurs because of the very poor mail facilities enjoyed by Porto Rico. Your letter to me is dated the 12th instant; that was Saturday and is the sailing day of the mail boat from New York to Porto Rico, so as your letter did not get to New York in time to catch that boat, it did not leave New York until the 19th, and did not get here until Thursday night following, that is the 24th, and it could not be answered until today, the 30th, and you will not get this letter until about January 8th, 1909, and I presume that will be after the ceremonies of dedicating the building the University has honored me by naming for me. Indeed I would like to be present at those ceremonies. My heart goes out to the dear old “U.N.M.” Well do I remember when as a young man in 1889 in the Territorial council I made the fight for its location at Albuquerque. Several places in the territory wanted the Agricultural College, including Albuquerque. I had a bill in for its location there, so had Socorro, so had Las Vegas, and so had Las Cruces. I always thought that to have the University would be best, and so in order to break the deadlock, I came down from Santa Fe to Albuquerque one Saturday night, and we held a meeting of prominent people, and resolved to take the University and let Las Cruces have the Agricultural College. When I went back a caucus was called and the institutions were located as they are now, the University at Albuquerque, the Asylum at Las Vegas, the School of Mines at Socorro, and the Agricultural College at Las Cruces. Then in company with Judge McFie, Col. Twitchell and Br. Cromwell, I went to my room in the Palace Hotel, and, aided by notes which I had procured of Neill B. Field of Albuquerque, the week before to pencil out for me, as I was too busy to look up every question regarding the framing of such an important bill, I dictated the Omnibus Bill, creating the four institutions, and we passed it next day in both houses of the legislature. This was in the very last days of February, 1889. The bill has not since been materially changed, and it speaks well for the care exercised in its framing, even considering the hurry we were in. You will all notice the carful wording to make the institution the State University when we become a state. Ever since that time I have protected the University in every statehood bill that has been before Congress, and I am looking after it in the present one, as I sent to Washington last week for a copy of the enabling act. The faculty ought to send for copies also and be sure that the rights and interests of our greatest educational institution are protected in it.

Since we established our Territorial institutions, I have seen those of Arizona, nearly all of which are located at Tucson, and while I do not think that is the best location in Arizona, still locating several of the Territorial or State institutions together in one place is, in my opinion, best, and I think several of the others ought to have been added to the University at Albuquerque. One great institution is often better than several weak ones. Our University, Agricultural College, School of Mines, Military Institute, one Experiment Station and one Normal School, should have all been located together, but such is the force of local jealousies and selfishness, that it could not be done. But thanks to your splendid men having the University in charge it has been kept up, and I can foresee its future greatness. Realizing this, there is not in all my life’s work anything I am so proud of as being the humble author of the bill that brought the University to Albuquerque. Therefore, my gratitude at the consideration shown me in naming the splendid new building Rodey Hall is deep indeed.

I am sending you for deposit in the library of the hall or the University a Ponce de Leon medal, struck here last fall on the great occasion of the 400th anniversary of his landing in Porto Rico, and even before he went to Florida to find the spring that would renew youth. I am also having the island ransacked for histories of the Conquistadores, and if I succeed I will send some work of that kind regarding Cabeza de Baca or Coronado to the University library.

If I were rich, it would be my pleasure to endow our University in some becoming manner, and nothing would please me better than to have my bones deposited within its campus after I shall pass away. If there appears to be hope for our statehood bill this short session of Congress, and I will know in a week or two, then I will go up to Washington about February 1st, to the 5th, to help out in its passage, and look after our interests. God bless you all, and may the University of New Mexico ever be a credit to its state and its country, and may every Rodey ever be its friend.

Sincerely yours,

B.S. Rodey