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November 2015


Dear Abbot Pennings,

“Who is the new Hugh Hall named after?”

Taylor Miller ’16


My dearest Taylor,

Ah, what a most excellent inquiry! Walking through campus today and reading the names of buildings both historic and brand new is a veritable trip through time. Whilst some building names duly honor those who significantly impacted or provided vital funds to enhance our lovely campus, others, such as Hugh Hall, owe their names to a much earlier time.

How fortunate that you would make such a query, as there are no doubt many throughout our extended college community who may be unaware of the origin of the name Hugh Hall, or, as the more formal name has been bestowed, Blessed Hugh of Fosse Hall.

A devout follower of Norbert and his ideal of a radical following of Christ, Hugh of Fosse is considered the organizer and first abbot general of the Premonstratensians. Under his direction and gentle guidance, our blessed order grew to more than 100 monasteries. Indeed, Hugh had an essential role in the development of the Norbertine order.

Although the name of this hall is new to campus, the building in which this hall exists is a space somewhat familiar to many of our students, particularly those from more recent years. Formerly St. Boniface Grade School, located on the corner of Grant and Fourth Streets just across from the former St. Boniface Church (now Dudley Birder Hall), the college leased the building for a time beginning in 1999. It served as home to multiple offices, storerooms, a conference room, kitchen, lounge area, a locker room and much more, including the service center for facilities and even our academic support services team before they found their new home in a renovated Todd Wehr Hall.

For a brief few years, the Wisconsin International School took up residence in this space, but it was destined to return to the college’s caretakers. In 2014, we were delighted to be able to purchase the facility, and renovated the space over the course of the past year.

In the lower level, one finds where the facilities service center has relocated itself. The space above has once again been renovated into living quarters for our junior and senior students. 

Our fine students who call this hall “home” may continue to share Norbert’s goal of peace and community to all they meet. And just as Hugh of Fosse helped develop and grow the Norbertine order, so, too, does our talented facilities staff help develop our lovely campus. In honor of this impeccably influential Norbertine, the college has appropriately selected a building that is certainly deserving of his namesake.

Responses to “Ask the Abbot” questions are penned by St. Norbert College staff in the name of Abbot Bernard Pennings, O.Praem., who founded St. Norbert College in 1898. 

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