Building Legacies: The president formerly known as Prince Lucien Campbell
The Emerald is continuing its series on names of University of Oregon campus buildings this week with Prince Lucien Campbell Hall. Check out the previous building stories on Lillis Hall, Gerlinger Hall and Condon Hall.
Prince Lucien Campbell Hall towers over west campus. Known to most students as simply “PLC,” the structure was built in three parts over six years beginning in 1962, according to the UO Libraries Architecture of the University website.
The core five-story unit and two-story west wing were first completed in 1963. The 108-foot-tall campus skyscraper seen today was created when eight more stories were added atop the two-story west addition, along with the auditorium unit, in 1968.
Soon after the initial structure was completed, the building was dedicated to the university’s fourth president, Prince Lucien Campbell. No, he was not an actual prince, but Campbell was instrumental in establishing the university that exists today in Eugene.
At the beginning of Campbell’s tenure as president in 1902, only about 250 students were enrolled at the university. When Campbell died in 1925, enrollment reached around 3,000 students. Campbell also garnered substantial financial support for the university, increasing funding from $47,000 annually to nearly $1 million, according to UO Special Collections and University Archives.
Campbell also reshaped the curriculum at UO to emphasize art, architecture and physical education along with the core curriculum already in place. He was also responsible for hiring prominent faculty members like Ellis Lawrence, a campus architect and former head of the architecture school.
“[Architecture and Allied Arts] eventually became its own school itself, but it took a lot of buildup to do that,” said Jennifer O’Neal, university historian and archivist at Knight Library. “Back then it was seen as not one of the foundational courses. It existed but it wasn’t seen as important. So it really took bringing in someone like Ellis Lawrence and other faculty members to build up that program.”
Throughout his career, Campbell displayed a passion for education. Even as a young man at Harvard, he was already writing and observing the cultural differences between large universities and small colleges, comparing Harvard to the small Christian College in Monmouth, Oregon, where Campbell had initially gone to school and his father had served as president. He also wrote for the Kansas City Star between his junior and senior year at Harvard, according to the UO Special Archives.
“It’s interesting as a man who went to a very private school that [Campbell] was then able to recruit so many students to come here to a public school,” O’Neal said. “He was able to see the value in a public university, which is great.”
After graduating Harvard, Campbell returned to Monmouth in 1886 to teach classics at the Oregon State Normal School [previously Christian College]. Three years later, the school promoted him to president despite Campbell still being in his 20s.
Under Campbell’s leadership, OSNS thrived. Enrollment, funding and faculty population increased while he was president — all changes that he would introduce at the University of Oregon a decade later.
“Education was so important to him,” said O’Neal. “He wanted to have it available to as many people as possible despite whatever background they were coming from, and that a university degree was useful no matter what type of family you were coming from or what type of profession you wanted to embark upon. He believed having that university experience and education was important.”
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