Hausdoerffer’s legacy brings old and new together

Hausdoerffer talks about his experience at the College, in front of the hall bearing his name. (Abby Hocking / Photo Assistant)
Hausdoerffer talks about his experience at the College, in front of the hall bearing his name. (Abby Hocking / Photo Assistant)

An open house gala for the new Metzger Drive apartments was held  Tuesday, Aug. 25. The gala took place in front of the new apartments, Phelps and  Hausdoerffer Halls.

The event featured an opening ceremony with guest speakers including College President R. Barbara Gitenstein, James Norfleet, vice president of student life, Pat Holloran, president of the Residence Hall Association and Sean Stallings, the director of Residential Life.

Professor William Hausdoerffer, for whom the second apartment building was named, spoke last. The gala concluded with a barbecue .

“(These apartments are) exactly what we envsioned when we started this project years ago,” Gitenstein said, going on to talk about Hausdoerffer and his long and varied history with the College. During the Great Depression, he attended the College as a student and played for the Lions’ football team.

Later in life, Hausdoerffer  taught mathematics at the College for 30 years and also served as dean of the Math Department. He created an annuity for students studying math.

William H. Hausdoerffer Hall (above) was named for the mathematics professor who attended the College and taught here for 30 years. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)
William H. Hausdoerffer Hall was named for the mathematics professor who attended the College and taught here for 30 years. (Tim Lee / Photo Editor)

Hausdoerffer is also responsible for the design of the lawn sundial next to the Brower Student Center. He and his wife, who also taught at the College, recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

“This is a great institution,” Hausdoerffer said. “I’ve loved it for 50 percent of the existence of the College if my math is correct …Why is that so? It’s so because I wanted it.”

Hausdoerffer’s speech was littered with anecdotes, praise for the College, and just a little bit of humor.

“I’m proud to hear the name Hausdoerffer pronounced so correctly,” he said of the many interesting pronunciations of his name (which, as he put it, is correctly pronounced “House-Door-Fur”) that Hausdoerffer has heard over the years.

“I won’t tell you what they are because they might become attached,” he said with a smile. He then talked about his own dormitory living experiences while at the College, including his stint living in Bliss Hall in September of 1935.

“We’ve been given a good balance of education (at the College),” Hausdoerffer said, urging students to take a twofold interest in education: professional development and recreational development.

He strongly recommended students develop recreational activities (like sports and hobbies) in life because that is where one makes lifelong friends and has fun.

William Hausdoerffer himself (right) spoke at the open house gala for the apartments. He talked about his experience and dormitory life at the College, and encouraged students to participate in sports and hobbies. (Abby Hocking / Photo Assistant)
William Hausdoerffer himself (right) spoke at the open house gala for the apartments. He talked about his experience and dormitory life at the College, and encouraged students to participate in sports and hobbies. (Abby Hocking / Photo Assistant)

“It’s a real pleasure and thrill for me to have this named Hausdoerffer Hall,” he said. “When I first heard about it, I was in the Princeton Hospital and Dr. Gitenstein called me and I thought it was a death wish. People will say anything when you’re in the hospital,” he joked. But he soon found out that wasn’t the case. According to Gitenstein, it was his dedication and years of service at the College that helped make the decision.

The other new student apartment building, Phelps Hall, is named after William Phelps, the first President of the College in 1855. According to Stallings, Phelps’ philosophy was to “educate the whole person.” He believed, “the best teacher helps students.”

“We are proud to open Phelps Hall, and create memories for your time,” Stallings said.