National Institute on Aging

University of Iowa Names Building to Honor Alumna Elizabeth Catlett

The University of Iowa recently dedicated the Elizabeth Catlett Residence Hall on its Iowa City campus. The 300,000-square-foot, 12-story dormitory is the largest residence hall on campus with rooms for more than 1,000 students. It is only the second residence hall built on campus since 1968.

Elizabeth Catlett is one of the most celebrated sculptors of the twentieth century. The granddaughter of slaves and a graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C., Catlett was a graduate student at the University of Iowa from 1938 to 1940. She was the first African American woman to earn a master of fine arts degree at the University of Iowa. At the time Catlett was a student at the University of Iowa, African Americans were not permitted to reside on campus.

J. Bruce Harreld, president of the University of Iowa, said that Elizabeth Catlett’s “values — the arts, justice for humanity, support for all individuals — that’s what this type of building represents, and it’s so important that we honor her and her family letting us remind ourselves in the perpetuity of the core values she represents.”

Catlett died in 2012 at the age of 96.


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