COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland today celebrated the dedication of its newest residence hall, Pyon-Chen Hall. The state-of-the-art, 131,000-square-foot building, which houses 450 students, is named after two trailblazers who were key to diversifying UMD: Pyon Su and Chunjen Constant Chen.
The naming is one of several initiatives and recommendations UMD President Darryll J. Pines outlined on his first day as president aimed at building a more diverse and welcoming campus community. This is the first time since 1914 that a residence hall has been named for a person.
“Our pioneers made invaluable contributions to our university that have helped shape our campus for more than a century,” says Pines. “Pyon-Chen Hall is a tribute to two individuals who helped define the institution we are today, and it serves as a physical reminder of our commitment to inclusive excellence.”
In 1891, Pyon (pronounced “Pe-awn” as one syllable) Su became the first Korean student to receive a degree from any American college or university. Chunjen Constant Chen was the first Chinese student to enroll at the Maryland Agricultural College in 1915.
"My great-great-great-uncle, Pyon Su, was a changemaker, and his legacy at the University of Maryland is a shining example of that. He was the first Korean to graduate from any U.S. college or even any western university. He was a trailblazer for not only Koreans but also for all Asians in this country. We are honored for our family name to be ingrained in this university's history and to be part of something much greater than one man's journey,” said Harold Pyon, Pyon Su’s great-great-great-nephew.
“My family are Terps through and through. Last year, Cara Chen, our family's fourth generation of Terps, proudly graduated on the 100th anniversary of my grandfather Chunjen Constant Chen attaining his master's degree at the University of Maryland. Our family knows he would have been honored to have his name cemented on campus, and to know that his story has inspired and paved the way for so many students for generations,” said Andrew Chen, Chunjen Constant Chen’s grandson.
Home to some of the incoming cohort of the University Honors living-learning program in addition to other first-year students, the building is at the forefront of a national trend, bringing together a critical mass of high-achieving students from diverse backgrounds to live and learn jointly, opening up new opportunities for creative collaboration and strengthening academic engagement.
The six-story high-rise overlooking La Plata Beach is full of natural light and features occupancy sensors to help reduce energy use. Central lounges and enclosed study spaces on each floor help students connect with one another and focus on their academic work. Each floor also includes one handicapped-accessible room with a private bathroom; the other rooms are single- and double-occupancy.
“Opening a new residence hall is an exciting time for our entire campus community,” said Patty Perillo, UMD’s Vice President for Student Affairs. “I am proud of our commitment and intentionality to design spaces that inspire and facilitate teaching and learning, community building and inclusion among students, faculty and staff...space that truly supports the academic mission.”
Pyon-Chen Hall is the first of two new residence halls located in the newly established Heritage Community, which will also include a new dining hall. The neighboring Johnson-Whittle Hall will open in 2022.
“What's so special about this building, in particular, is the name of the hall and the community; Heritage. For years to come, Terps will understand the importance of these influential names, who helped pave the way for students to have an opportunity to make their mark on our campus,” said Scott Cronin, Residence Hall Association President. “It also makes me so happy to say that the Residence Hall Association students had the opportunity to collaborate with the University on this residence hall to help ensure it met students' needs."
About the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland (UMD) is the state's flagship university and a leading public research institution, propelled by a $1.3 billion joint research enterprise. Located four miles from Washington, D.C., the university is dedicated to addressing the grand challenges of our time and is the nation's first Do Good campus. It is driven by a diverse and proudly inclusive community of more than 50,000 fearless Terrapins. UMD is a top producer of Fulbright scholars and offers an unparalleled student experience with more than 300 academic programs, 25 living-learning programs and 400 study abroad programs. Spurred by a culture of innovation and creativity, UMD faculty are global leaders in their field and include Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and members of the national academies. For more information about the University of Maryland, visit umd.edu.