Save Smith Hall Open House: ‘We’re all in it together’

Smith Hall, home to KU’s Department of Religious Studies, has been earmarked for demolition. Lawrence Modern, alongside the Lawrence Preservation Alliance and the Historic Mount Oread Friends groups, hosted an Open House on Saturday, Dec. 3 to raise awareness of the building’s plight. The event drew an estimated 125 attendees—current and former students, faculty, staff and concerned local citizens—for an hour-long discussion about the building’s history, architecture, and relevance. LPA board member Dale Slusser gave opening remarks, followed by a list of speakers that included religious studies professor Tim Miller; retired distinguished professor Dennis Domer; Kim Tefft, son of sculptor Eldon Tefft; Lawrence Modern’s Tom Harper and Bill Steele; and Dale Suitor, great nephew of Irma I. Smith, who was the building’s primary donor (and namesake). Smith believed that young people should have the opportunity to engage with both religious and non-religious worldviews in religious education, a point that Domer expands upon in his talk above, which is a must-watch. “One of the reasons that a university is here is to ask the eternal questions,” Domer said. “Is there a god? And if there is not, why? And if so, why, and what difference would that make?” Since 1967, Smith Hall has been putting that eternal question in the center of campus. As Domer noted, it is a place for agnostics, it’s a place for religiously minded people, it’s a place for Buddhists, it’s a place for Muslims and Jews and all kinds of people, inclusively. “We’re all in it together,” he said. “We need a space like this so that those sorts of questions will be asked for evermore here. And if we don’t have it, what’s the point?”

To learn more about Smith Hall and the issues at stake read Tom Harper’s excellent article in the Lawrence Times or his more detailed post below.

This is a call for action. It’s important for the Chancellor, Provost and Board of Regents to hear your voice. If you value Smith Hall and what it represents we urge you to write a letter of support. Without it, a precious cultural resource and a legacy of religious thought at KU could be erased. We need your help!

Chancellor Girod: 

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Barbara A. Bichelmeyer:

University Architect Mark L. Reiske:

Regent Benson: 

Regent Dicus: 

Regent Harrison-Lee:  

Regent Ice: 

Regent Kiblinger:

Regent Lane:  

Regent Mendoza: 

Regent Rolph:  

Regent Winter: 

President Flanders:

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