BOT will vote on renaming Douglas Hall after both EIU’s first Black grad, community leader


Photos courtesy of The Keep

The Board of Trustees will vote Friday on renaming Douglas Hall after Zella Powell, Eastern’s first Black graduate, and Ona Norton, a Charleston resident who helped house students of color starting in the 1950s.

Corryn Brock, Editor-in-Chief

A vote will be taken on renaming Douglas Hall to Powell-Norton Hall during the Board of Trustees meeting at 1 p.m. Friday.

If approved, the name would honor both Zella Powell, Eastern’s first Black graduate, and Ona Norton, a Charleston community leader who provided housing to students of color.

Efforts to rename Douglas Hall, named after pro-slavery proponent and former Illinois Sen. Stephen Douglas, have been ongoing for nearly a decade. University President David Glassman brought the issue to the forefront at the Sept. 11, 2020 BOT meeting after being asked to reconsider the issue by, Chris Hanlon, who initiated the discussion for changing the name in 2010.

The vote will be the last action item on the boards’s agenda Friday following a period of public comment before a final vote is taken on the matter.

Those wishing to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting can email board secretary Audrey Edwards at [email protected]. Those interested in speaking specifically before the Douglas Hall vote should specify that they wish to speak during that period of public comment.

There will be 20 minutes total for the portion of public comment focused on the Douglas Hall renaming.

People can also comment by emailing Edwards at the email address above. Those comments will be printed and shared with the trustees at the meeting.


Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].