JH Richmond Hall returns in time for new academic year | Local News

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MURRAY — As Murray State University President Bob Jackson had said on several occasions the past few weeks, Saturday was a time of moving forward when it came to one of the campus’ residential colleges.

It was June 2017 that an explosion nearly destroyed J.H. Richmond Hall along Waldrop Drive. Saturday, on the day the campus was most abuzz with activity relating to the annual move-in time for students and their parents in advance of a new academic year, the explosion seemed like a distant memory.

Murray State Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services Jackie Dudley said the return of J.H. Richmond (commonly known as “New Richmond) attracted the highest number of requests from students when it came to which dorm in which they want to reside in 2019-20. As she watched the flurry of activity at the height of the move-in swarm Saturday morning, she could not help but smile.

“Oh it’s great. Everybody wants to be in here. It’s on everybody’s first list,” Dudley said as she Jackson and other top campus administrators assisted students in moving belongings to their rooms. “And we tried to get as many of those requests met as we could. It’s a very popular dorm.”

The renovation, planned by the Louisville architectural firm Luckett & Farley with Benton-based Pinnacle Construction providing the workforce that executed the plan, has resulted in several new features previously not available with the original building.

A much more open front entrance opens the proverbial gate to other new additions, such as an activity room and a more roomy kitchen/vending machine area. It is what awaits on the second floor, though, that had Jackson serving as a promoter/tour guide to everyone Saturday.

“It’s got a balcony,” Jackson said of the outdoor area that sits above the rear entrance of the building that faces Hester College. “It’s just a neat addition, and the students will love it. You’ll be able to look out at the campus, kind of like Rhett Butler (Clark Gable’s character from “Gone with the Wind”). This will really be nice in the fall.”

Fancy Farm student Ian McCleary said he had been staying in Hart College but asked to transfer to J.H. Richmond.

“I’ve got pretty good digs here, can’t complain,” McCleary said as he assisted students with registration in the new activity room. “It’s the new building! So when they said they needed experienced (residential advisors) over here, I definitely wanted to be here. It’s just beautiful. Look at it!”

Cunningham’s Rebecca Johnson was helping her daughter, Addison, who attended Paducah Tilghman High School, become acquainted with her new surroundings at J.H. Richmond Saturday. She said Addison and a friend with whom she will be sharing her room were disappointed a few days ago when they were told they would be staying elsewhere on campus.

“Then (Murray State) came back and said, ‘You’ve got a room, blah, blah, blah,’ and they were so excited,” Rebecca said. “I absolutely love it and, even better, they’re on the first floor. The biggest thing is they’ve got their own bathroom; that’s important.”

Dudley was taking notes as she talked with Rebecca. She said she always does on a day like this. Then she began asking Rebecca about her daughter’s laundry experience. Rebecca said the plan apparently was for Addison to bring laundry home on weekends.

“She can do it for free here,” Dudley told her.

“She will know how to do it before I leave today,” Rebecca quickly responded, drawing laughter from everyone.

Such moments are what Jackson said make this the best time of year on campus as the students learn new things and prepare to take a journey that will shape them for the rest of their lives. He said the fact that J.H. Richmond is back in the fold makes this year even more special.

“We’re getting lots of oohs and ahs. The parents are impressed, the students are impressed. Hey, we’re impressed (as university administrators)!” he said. “A lot of people here are excited. It is a new day.

“We’re going forward. We’re not going backward.”

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