What is in a Name? Wendell Hill Hall

Wendell Hill

For 30 years, Wendell Hill was in charge of all the things that keep a university going.

As the longtime Director of Auxiliary Services (from 1963 to 1993), Hill was in charge of most of CWU’s nonacademic departments, including student housing, the conference program, dining services, parking, and the university store.

Hill was born on May 15, 1928, in Holton, Kansas, and grew up east of Holton in Atchison, Kansas. After graduating from Atchison High School in 1946, he joined the US Army and served for four years.

He returned to Atchison and met Shirley Dunham, a cousin of one of his friends. About a year later, the two were married and would eventually have four children. Shortly after their marriage, the two relocated to Topeka so Hill could enroll at Washburn University.

Following his graduation from Washburn in 1954, Hill worked as the school’s assistant treasurer and taught accounting for nine years. In 1963, he was offered the job at Central Washington State College (now CWU).

During the next three decades, Hill saw a campus that increased in size and enrollment (although there were ups and downs over the years). He oversaw the construction of two residence halls, Courson and Muzzall halls (now gone), and helped create special housing for returning Vietnam War veterans.

Hill is credited with helping to create CWU’s Living Learning Communities and in working with the Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce to ease any town-gown tensions during his tenure.

Upon his retirement in 1993, the CWU Board of Trustees honored him with the status “Distinguished Administrator.”

Following his retirement, Hill, who continued to live in Ellensburg, remained extremely active in the community. He was passionate about floating on the Yakima River—making a monthly trip on the river for about 300 months in a row (even in winter)—and served on the Kittitas County Fair Board for many years.

He also helped start the annual Yakima River Cleanup event and founded a docent program for the former Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute.

Hill passed away in 2003 but was honored in 2009 when CWU renamed a new 476-room residence hall complex (built during 2007-2008) for him. The buildings, previously known as Student Village South, consist of two buildings, each four stories tall, located at the northeast edge of the campus.

Wendell Hill Hall (which includes A and B wings) was constructed with a number of “green” features, including water-saving plumbing fixtures, stormwater treatment facilities, energy-efficient heating, cooling and ventilation, and recycling centers. Much of its construction materials were regionally produced or recycled.

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