The Walker and Dunn-Barton Decommissioning Ceremony on Friday, April 18, at 2 p.m. will bring an end to some of the oldest residence halls on the Illinois State University campus.
Join President Al Bowman, fellow alumni, faculty, staff, retirees and students in the mini quad between Walker and Dunn-Barton to say goodbye and to reminisce before the buildings are razed to make way for the new Student Fitness and Kinesiology and Recreation Center.
Alumni will be represented by Michael McErlean, who will offer some comments about his time in Walker Hall. McErlean ’82, a Dunn-Barton/Walker Residence Association president, was a high jumper his freshman year at Illinois State, a student manager at the Bowling and Billiards Center, a member of the Business Administration Club, a student senator and worked security at concerts his senior year. Currently he heads a start-up brokerage firm, Trading OptX. He has served as a board member for four different futures exchanges in three different time zones.
Dunn and Barton residence halls were built in 1951, with Dunn named in honor of Richard Dunn and Barton in honor of Olive Lillian Barton. Dunn was an alumnus of Illinois State who drafted a bill to allow residence halls to be built for Illinois Teachers College campuses through the sale of bonds, rather than state funding. Barton was a math teacher and former Dean of Women. Walker Hall opened in 1955 and was named in honor of Lewis Walker, an Illinois State (Normal) University graduate and chair of the Teacher’s College Board.
Three-year Walker Hall resident Jim Campbell ’69 shared that Walker Hall was the place where he first learned to live in relative harmony with a large group of people. He said there were no internet hook-ups or cell phones, but they did have party-line phones shared with the rooms above and below. Campbell fondly remembers crowding into the lounge, with several hundred other students, to watch a Notre Dame-Michigan State game. He said women were only allowed in the rooms on special occasions such as Homecoming or Parent’s Day, and then only with the door open.
Former Walker resident and past vice-president of the Chicago West Alumni Chapter Curtis Linder ’84 chose to move to Walker after spending his freshman year in Watterson Towers. “Right out of the Illinois State dorm roommate lottery system, I drew Ed Wollenberg ’83,” Linder said. “To tell you something about the lasting effects of Walker Hall, I had lunch with Ted this week.” McErlean appointed Linder as the Dunn-Barton/Walker student liaison to the Association of Residence Halls where he fielded complaints about water balloons, stereo speakers pointed out the windows, unauthorized fireworks, six a.m. ultimate frisbee games and more. He said there were fierce, yet friendly, sports competitions between floors on the south wing of Walker and an annual blood drive for the community. “The main hallway did more than just link a series of guys’ rooms together—it was the main artery of dorm life,” Linder said. “It was the yellow brick road of what excitement would happen next: a challenge flag football game, spinning vinyl records or finding out which girls floor from Dunn-Barton would be coming over for happy hour.”