What’s in a name: The history behind famous names on campus
From Rodden Theater to Hansen Quad, here are the people behind the names.
An installment in a monthly series celebrating La Salle University’s rich history and the forthcoming 160th anniversary of its charter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
La Salle University honors those from throughout its nearly 160-year history in a variety of ways—including by dedicating campus locations in their name. Various academic buildings, conference rooms, and activity spaces commemorate those from the University’s history.
Here is a look at some of those people whose legacies live on across campus:
Roland Holroyd, Ph.D.
Holroyd Hall, within the School of Arts and Sciences, is named after Roland Holroyd, Ph.D. Known as “the Good Doctor,” Holroyd founded La Salle’s Department of Biology.
Holroyd began at La Salle in 1920 in a part-time role teaching zoology while still a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1930, he left his part-time role at Penn for a full-time position as a biology professor at La Salle. He was one of the first full-time faculty members who was not a Brother of the Christian Schools.
High-quality teaching was important to Holroyd, who received a Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. He was often remembered for teaching in an academic robe, according to the 1969 winter issue of La Salle Magazine. “Almost all La Salle students at the time had been taught all their lives by priests, nuns, or Christian Brothers. They associated a black robe with authority, and they regarded a man in street clothes with tolerance rather than respect,” according to the Spring 1985 issue of La Salle Magazine where Holroyd was quoted.
David Leo Lawrence
Formerly known as the Lawrence Library, the Lawrence Administrative Building on Main Campus is named after David Leo Lawrence, the former mayor of Pittsburgh and governor of Pennsylvania. Lawrence became a friend and benefactor of La Salle in the 1950s and 1960s.
Lawrence was the chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party from 1934-1940 and is credited with Pittsburgh’s revival during his time as mayor.
He became Pennsylvania governor in 1958. As governor, Lawrence worked on a variety of initiatives including the passage of the Fair Housing Law of 1961, air pollution control, and the Library Code of 1961, which expanded library services for Pennsylvanians who had little or no access to libraries. He also formed a Committee on Education that thoroughly investigated Pennsylvania’s educational institutions. They produced a 2,091-page report advocating massive changes, including consolidating school districts, requiring higher standards and pay for teachers, and tripling the enrollment at state colleges, according to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
H. Blake Hayman, ’41, M.D., HON ’64
Tom Gola Arena at TruMark Financial Center was previously named Hayman Hall. Today, Hayman Hall is an academic building on Main Campus that was previously known as Olney Hall.
Both received their name from H. Blake Hayman, ’41, M.D., HON ’64. Hayman was a leading obstetrician in Bucks County, Pa., and a major benefactor of La Salle in 2019. He was nicknamed “Levittown’s baby doctor” and delivered 4,000 babies annually in the early 1960s. (It’s estimated that he delivered more than 50,000 babies during his career.) Dedicated to his work, he often slept on a cot in his practice rather than going home.
Hayman received the inaugural President’s Award and an honorary degree from La Salle in 1964, according to University Archives. Hayman also served as a La Salle board member from 1966-1974.
A conference room in the Union, the McShain Boardroom, is named after John McShain. A La Salle College High School graduate of 1917, McShain was a nationally known builder, a friend of the Christian Brothers, and an early benefactor of La Salle.
McShain built some of the first buildings at 20th and Olney, including College Hall. His construction firm is also responsible for building the Pentagon, Jefferson Memorial, Kennedy Center, the State Department building, and the Franklin Roosevelt Library.
He managed the 1951 renovation of the White House under President Harry S. Truman. He became known for quality and speed at a reasonable cost, which helped him win contracts for numerous buildings throughout Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and New York. By 1950, his firm John McShain, Inc., was the fifth-largest construction firm in the U.S.
E.F. “Bud” Hansen, ’58
Hansen Quad was renamed in 2016 for former Trustee E.F. “Bud” Hansen, ’58.
Hansen was the president and CEO of Hansen Properties. Passionate about real estate development, Hansen’s company built golf courses, hotels, and malls across the Philadelphia suburbs. He received multiple honors from the La Salle community including the John J. Finley, ’24, Award, the Charter Dinner Lasallian Leadership Award, the Beta Gamma Sigma Award, and the Michael A. DeAngelis Award. Hansen was also an inaugural member of the De La Salle Society—a distinction recognizing the most generous supporters of La Salle over their lifetimes.
The University replaced McShain Hall with the Hansen Quad, announced in the 2016-2017 Presidential Report. “In (McShain Hall’s) place now stands an open green space with café tables for students, faculty, and staff to work, eat, meet, and study. Loungers and hammocks are popular places where students can often be found mingling between classes. In the fall (2016), the space was dedicated “The Hansen Quad,” to honor longtime University supporter and former Trustee E.F. “Bud” Hansen, ’58, who passed away in March 2016,” according to the report.
Dan Rodden, ’41
The Dan Rodden Theater in the Union is named after Dan Rodden, ’41. The English professor, who died in 1978, was well known for his work as an actor, director, and producer in campus theatrical productions. Rodden founded La Salle Music Theatre and was the director of the undergraduates’ theatrical group The Masque from 1953 to 1965.
During Rodden’s time, La Salle offered the only college-sponsored professional summer theater program. Memorably, the theater presented Carousel in 1962 to a standing-room-only audience. Former Pennsylvania governor David Leo Lawrence was in attendance.
Tom Gola, ’55
Also known as “Mr. All-Around,” Tom Gola, ’55, is the man for whom Tom Gola Arena at TruMark Financial Center gains its name. The La Salle men’s basketball legend is known as one of the all-time greatest players in NCAA history.
Gola grew up in the Olney neighborhood and was also a graduate of La Salle College High School. A four-time all-American at La Salle, he averaged 20.9 points and 18.7 rebounds per game. Professionally, he was a five-time NBA all-star across 11 seasons. He won the national championship in 1954 at La Salle and an NBA title with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1956.
Gola retired from the NBA in 1966 and was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He also worked as the City Controller of Philadelphia. In 1968, he returned to La Salle as the men’s basketball coach for two seasons.
The Kirk Pool at TruMark Financial Center is named after La Salle’s debut swimming coach Joseph Kirk.
Kirk’s teams earned the 1947 Eastern Catholic College Swimming Championship and the MAC title in 1957. From 1955-1958, the team achieved 39 consecutive victories. In 1964, the team won a third place in the NCAA finish (College Division) and won another MAC title in 1966, as well as place fifth in the in NCAA (College Division) Championships.
Kirk coached La Salle’s swimming team until his death in 1970.
John F. and Josephine Connelly
The Connelly Library receives its name from John F. and Josephine Connelly. John, who was a member of the La Salle Board of Trustees from 1958 to 1988, was the chairman of the Board of Crown Cork and Seal Company and Connelly Container Corporation in Philadelphia, according to the Summer 1988 issue of La Salle Magazine.
Connelly Library was funded, in part, by donations from the Connelly Foundation.