Black Hall is named to honor George H. Black, who served as the fourth principal (president) of Washington State Normal School (now known as CWU). Black, who was appointed in 1916, previously served as the Idaho Normal School in Lewiston for 13 years.
Born in Georgetown, Ontario, Canada on June 6, 1873, Black had also served as vice president of Clarksburg (Missouri) College and as head of the science department at Cheney Normal School (now known as Eastern Washington University).
Once in office, Black immediately began establishing close ties with the Ellensburg community, reinforcing the economic benefits of the school. Additionally, he reshaped the school’s curriculum to train more teachers for elementary school positions, which had the greatest need in the state at that time.
During Black’s tenure, the Normal School added several new buildings including Shaw-Smyser Library and classroom building, Sue Lombard Hall, Munson Hall, a Student Association building, additions to Kamola Hall, a heating plant, land for an athletic field, and a dining room for faculty and students living off-campus.
Black resigned in April 1931 following an audit report that was critical of how the school handled its finances. The report claimed the school was running a $33,000 deficit in its dormitory fund and would require legislative relief (which it received in 1931).
After leaving WSNS, Black began working on his doctorate at the University of California, and then relocated to New York University, where he became a member of the faculty.
In 1935, Black was named Provost of Newark University in New Jersey, and served in that role until he retired in 1947. Later that year, he and his wife relocated to Palo Alto, California. Following a lengthy illness, Black died on February 24, 1952.
In 1960, CWU constructed what was originally referred to as the Education and Psychology Building on the east side of campus to house those academic programs. The building was rectangular and designed in the Modern Style of architecture and, when it opened, named to honor George Black.
The structure received a major renovation in 1998, which nearly tripled its size and remodeled its exterior. The new Black replaced the original flat roof with a gambrel roof and transformed the appearance to a Postmodern style with brick patterns evoking early American Quaker design.