History of McConnell Hall Shows Alumni Took Away Our Fun

Alan Milligan/ION

For some of us, McConnell Hall has been our home for two years; for others, just one.  It’s the place where we’ve pulled our hair out studying for one of Burleson’s tests; where we’ve crammed the Sunday night before a physics test; where we’ve stayed up until the sun began to rise just because we could; where we’ve made some of our closest friends; and where we’ve had our overly-dramatic romances.  But how much do we really know about the place we now call home?  I sat down with Dr. Sinclair for an interview to unravel some of the mystery behind McConnell Hall.

Dr. Sinclair joined the TAMS administration in 1992; that’s twenty years ago.  However, McConnell had already been propped up on this campus of ours for quite some time.  McConnell Hall is a “60’s vintage hall.”  And that wing that everyone calls “new,” isn’t so new.  It’s been attached to McConnell for over twenty years.  Therefore, it’s not a “new” wing, just a newer wing.  McConnell Hall got its name from the 17-year president of UNT (1934-1951), W. Joseph McConnell.  Surprisingly enough, Bewley and Smitty are named after past custodians who have worked in this hall.  And yes, MAC café was once a cafeteria.  The sitting areas were where the students dined, the Student Activities Center was the kitchen, and the board room was the dish return.  After the cafeteria came and went, SAC then turned into a store room for the university’s candy machines.

When Dr. Sinclair joined the TAMS administration, he arranged to have offices placed in the back of SAC.  Originally, McConnell housed regular UNT undergraduates, but in 1988 when the first TAMS class arrived, things began to change.  From 1988, the year of the first TAMS class, to 1991, McConnell Hall was split, part UNT students, part TAMS students.  The junior class of 1992 was the first class to have McConnell all to themselves.  According to Dr. Sinclair, not much of the lifestyle in McConnell has changed.  He did claim that the atmosphere was a little more “interesting” with college students also living in the dorm.

One can only imagine the tricks the TAMS kids pulled to get the college students to do favors for them.  However, rules have had to be added, and evolved.  Dr. Sinclair jokingly quoted Russ Stukel, “Every rule has somebody’s name attached to it.”  So if you have a problem with some of the more obscure rules, blame the past students.  One of the more drastic changes that Dr. Sinclair has noticed is that the earlier classes came to TAMS to get away from their home-life and the rules of high school.  Now it seems that the more recent attendees come because they are interested in the academic benefits of the program.

No matter when or why you chose to come to TAMS, McConnell is now your home.  This building is full of history lessons and stories to be passed down to the next class, who will soon come and create new memories within these walls.

Article by Aaron Cooper
Photo by Alan Milligan

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