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New SU residence hall to be named for late Orange legend Ernie Davis
New SU residence hall to be named for late Orange legend Ernie DavisSeptember 14, 2008Kevin Morrowkdmorrow@syr.edu
The new state-of-the-art residence hall to open in August 2009 at 619 Comstock Ave. will bear the name Ernie Davis Hall, after the late 1962 Syracuse University alumnus, a two-time All-America selection and the first African American to win the coveted Heisman Trophy.
Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor announced the naming honor during Saturday’s dedication ceremony for a bronze statue of Davis erected on a corner of the Quad between the Physics Building and Hendricks Chapel.
The unveiling of the statue was part of a weekend-long celebration of Davis’ life and legacy, which included the world premiere of the upcoming Universal Pictures film “The Express” at the Landmark Theatre in downtown Syracuse.
More than 2,000 people attended the premiere and hundreds more from the SU campus and Syracuse community came out to take part in the orange carpet festivities prior to the screening.
“Ernie Davis was a courageous young man, a remarkable athlete and a student of ours who walked our campus, lived in our dormitories and ate in our dining centers,” Cantor says. “By naming our new 21st-century residence hall in Ernie’s honor, we will ensure that thousands of future SU students will come to know him, what he accomplished and all that he stood for.”
Among those attending the pre-game statue unveiling were members of the Davis family; fellow “44” legend Floyd Little ’67; several players from SU’s 1959 national champion football team, of which Davis was a member; Reggie Schwartzwalder, wife of the late SU head football coach Ben Schwartzwalder; actors Dennis Quaid and Rob Brown, and other members of the cast and executives from “The Express.”
Opening nationwide Oct. 10, “The Express,” starring Brown as Ernie Davis and Quaid as Coach Schwartzwalder, is based on the book “Ernie Davis, The Elmira Express: The Story of a Heisman Trophy Winner” (Bartleby Press, 1983) by Robert C. Gallagher.
The film recounts not only Davis’ extraordinary football skills but also his fight for equality and respect. Davis became a symbol for achievement that transcended race. Refusing to flinch from others’ prejudices, he joined the ranks of black pioneers by teaching a generation tolerance, inspiring a movement that smashed barriers on and off the field.
Projected for greatness in the NFL, Davis was the first player selected in the 1962 draft, chosen by the Cleveland Browns to create a “dream backfield” pairing with the man whose records he had broken at SU-Jim Brown ’57. But the dream never came to be. Davis was diagnosed with acute monocytic leukemia. Less than a year after the draft, he died in his sleep at Cleveland Lakeside Hospital. He was 23. Shortly after his death, Davis’ mother, Marie Davis Fleming, donated his Heisman Trophy to SU. In 1979, Davis was inducted posthumously into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Ernie Davis Hall, covering 140,000 gross square feet, is SU’s first entirely new residential building in more than 40 years. The approximately $50 million, nine-story structure will offer students a mix of room types and amenities, with 250 beds, a 500-seat dining facility, a 10,600-square-foot recreation facility and 2,000 square feet of academic space.
The new hall’s residential space-measuring 95,000 square feet-will house a total of 60 split-double units and 120 single units on the third through ninth floors. The split-double units will be primarily for first-year students, and the single units will be offered primarily to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Floors 3 and 4 will be split doubles. Floor 5 will be half split doubles and half singles. Floors 6, 7, 8 and 9 will be singles.
The two-story dining facility will be situated along the building’s Comstock Avenue face; a ramp will connect the first and second floors, running south to north along almost the entire span of the dining seating area. The dining facility will follow a marketplace concept, will have 500 private and open seats and will operate with hours from 7 a.m.-11 p.m.
The recreation facility-8,600 square feet of exercise equipment and 2,000 square feet of open, multipurpose space-will be located on the hall’s second floor, along with classrooms and the main level of the hall’s residence portion, with the front desk, mail boxes, the residence director’s apartment, entry to the upper floors and a game room and a convenience store, among other features.