[UTA Magazine]


The evolution of Ransom Hall

Ransom Hall 2002Every day (and all night) students walk through the doors of UTA's oldest building to access technology's newest innovations. Built in 1919, W.A. Ransom Hall was originally the Administration Building for Grubbs Vocational College, one of the University's many predecessors. Today the building is a 24-hour computer center.

In 1918, the Legislature appropriated $112,500 for the construction and furnishing of a fireproof Administration Building. When it opened in 1919, the first floor housed administrative offices, the school library and laboratories for agricultural classes. Classrooms for history, languages, domestic science, domestic arts and education, along with botany and clothing labs, were on the second floor. The third floor contained classrooms and offices as well as an auditorium that the March 1, 1919, school Bulletin described as "furnished with 312 opera chairs and motion picture and lantern slides machines."

Ransom Hall, the oldest building on campus, has housed the school library, agriculture classes, botany labs and a computer center in its 83 years of existence.

A standing-room-only crowd packed the auditorium at the building's formal opening May 1, 1919.

W.A. Ransom came to campus that fall as a professor of English. An early faculty sponsor of the school newspaper, The Shorthorn, he was chair of the English Department when he retired 35 years later.

Ransom Hall 1918

The Grubbs Vocational College (now UTA) student body poses outside the new Administration Building, which was completed in 1919 for $112,500. Renamed for longtime English Professor W.A. Ransom in 1967, the tree-lined structure now houses a 24-hour computer lab.

The building's purpose changed over the years. The library moved to College Hall in 1926, and the administrators eventually relocated to newer buildings. By the late 1960s, the building was mostly used for English classes and faculty offices, and in 1967 it was renamed to honor Professor Ransom, an English Department legend.

The facility remained a classroom building—in addition to housing Student Publications for almost 20 years—until the early 1990s, when administrators decided it needed a complete renovation.

The redesign process was well under way when University President Robert E. Witt and his team arrived in 1995. But the project called for a one-floor computer center capped by two floors of administrative offices, an idea that the new administration ultimately rejected.

Dr. Witt, Provost George Wright and other administrators decided that proceeding with the computing facility on the ground floor was appropriate but that the second and third floors should also become computer classrooms and labs.

"We were able to decide very quickly that priorities needed to be changed-that a student computing facility at UTA had to be a much higher priority than additional administrative offices, particularly in that building," said Dan Williams, senior vice president for finance and administration.

"Redirecting the Ransom Hall project in this manner was the only feasible approach for UTA to get to where it needed to be within a reasonable time. Without having a facility of this type at UTA, we knew we would not be able to compete successfully in this important area of institutional operations."

Over the next year, at a cost of just over $3 million for building renovations and $2.5 million for equipment, Ransom Hall became a state-of-the-art computer facility.

These days, computers whir and chirp in historic Ransom Hall at all hours. Seems like everything old is new again.


shim shim shim shim shim shim shim