College Halls to be named for distinguished figures from Vanderbilt’s history

Vanderbilt's Board of Trust has approved plans to name the first two college halls Moore College and Warren College. (image courtesy Vanderbilt University)
Vanderbilt's Board of Trust has approved plans to name the first two college halls Moore College and Warren College. (image courtesy Vanderbilt University)

As the College Halls at Kissam construction project continues to take shape on the northeast corner of Vanderbilt’s campus, the university has announced plans to name the finished structures and areas within them in honor of several figures significant to the history and culture of the university.

Vanderbilt’s Board of Trust voted to approve the naming plans at its annual fall meeting Nov. 9.

Construction on the two-year, $115 million College Halls at Kissam project began in May 2012 and will result in two large, state-of-the-art residential colleges housing approximately 330 students each. The residential colleges will be named Moore College in honor of Stanford Moore (1913-1982), a 1935 Vanderbilt graduate who received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1972; and Warren College in honor of Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989), a 1925 Vanderbilt graduate and member of the influential Fugitive poets who later won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry and was named the first poet laureate of the United States in 1986.

In addition, each college will be divided into two halls with beds for approximately 165 students. These halls also will receive honorary names.

Within Moore College will be Rice Hall and Smith Hall. (Vanderbilt University)
Within Moore College will be Rice Hall and Smith Hall. (Vanderbilt University)

Within Moore College will be Rice Hall in honor of Henry Grantland Rice (1880-1954), a 1901 Vanderbilt graduate and the most famous American sports writer during the first half of the 20th century; and Smith Hall in honor of the Rev. Kelly Miller Smith (1920-1984), a civil rights leader and assistant dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School from 1968 to 1984.

Within Warren College will be Delbrück Hall and Elliston Hall. (Vanderbilt University)
Within Warren College will be Delbrück Hall and Elliston Hall. (Vanderbilt University)

Within Warren College will be Delbrück Hall in honor of Max Ludwig Henning Delbrück (1906-1981), a professor of physics at Vanderbilt from 1940 to 1947 who received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1969; and Elliston Hall in honor of Elizabeth Boddie Elliston (1820-1904), a 19th-century community leader and philanthropist who donated segments of her large plantation for the original formation of the Vanderbilt campus.

“We are indebted to each of these distinguished men and women linked with Vanderbilt’s rich history for their enduring contributions to the unique academic and social culture of the university,” Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said. “We are excited to memorialize their achievements as inspiring scholars and societal leaders through the buildings and spaces that comprise the first two college halls, which are dedicated to providing today’s students with similar opportunities to discover, teach and lead within a unique living-learning environment.”

This phase of College Halls at Vanderbilt, a top initiative of the chancellor, marks a major step forward in transforming undergraduate campus life. The project is being funded entirely through philanthropy and internal resources. It is scheduled to be complete in fall 2014.

“Moore College and Warren College will provide new foundations of engagement among our students and faculty, reinforcing the notion that the Vanderbilt undergraduate experience is second to none,” Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Richard McCarty said. “We look forward to opening these impressive facilities in the fall of 2014 and developing new college halls in the coming years.”

More about the honorees

Moore College


Stanford Moore (1913–1982), B.A. 1935

Moore was born in Chicago but grew up in Nashville, where his father was a member of the Vanderbilt Law School faculty. He attended the Peabody Demonstration School and in 1935 graduated summa cum laude from Vanderbilt, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity. He earned his doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1938.

Moore then joined the staff of the Rockefeller Institute, later Rockefeller University, where he spent his entire professional career with the exception of a period of government service during World War II. He became professor of biochemistry in 1952. In 1968, he was a visiting professor of health sciences at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Moore shared a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1972 with Christian B. Anfinsen and William Howard Stein for work done at Rockefeller University on the structure of the enzyme ribonuclease and for contributing to the understanding of the connection between the chemical structure and catalytic activity of the ribonuclease molecule.

Warren College


Robert Penn Warren (1905–1989), B.A. 1925

Warren was an American novelist, poet, critic and teacher, best known for his treatment of moral dilemmas in a South beset by the erosion of its traditional rural values. He was named the first poet laureate of the United States in 1986. When he enrolled at Vanderbilt in 1921, he became the youngest member of the group of poets called the Fugitives, which included John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Donald Davidson and Merrill Moore. The Fugitives were advocates of the rural Southern agrarian tradition and based their poetry and critical perspective on classical aesthetic ideals.

After graduation in 1925, Warren studied at the University of California–Berkeley (M.A. 1927) and at Yale. He then went to the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. From 1930 to 1950, he served on the faculty of several colleges and universities, including Vanderbilt and the University of Minnesota. He taught at Yale University from 1951 to 1973.

Though regarded as one of the best poets of his generation, Warren was better known as a novelist. His most popular novel, All the King’s Men (1946), won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1947 and was made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1949. In addition, he twice won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry (1958, 1979) and, at the time of his selection as poet laureate in 1986, was the only person ever to win the prize in both categories.

Rice Hall


Henry Grantland Rice (1880–1954), B.A. 1901

A sports writer and poet whose columns became nationally syndicated beginning in 1930, Rice is known as the Dean of American Sports Writers and the most famous sports writer in America during the first half of the 20th century. His poetry included “Alumni Football,” which ends with the lines: “For when the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name, He marks not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.”

To honor his 50 years in journalism, the Grantland Rice Fellowship in Journalism was established with the New York Community Trust in 1951. In 1954, the Football Writers Association established the Grantland Rice Memorial Award given to an outstanding college player chosen by the association. The Grantland Rice Bowl, a college bowl game named in his honor, was played from 1964 to 1977. He received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award posthumously in 1966 from the Baseball Writers Association of America for meritorious contributions to baseball writing. Today, the Fred Russell-Grantland Rice Sports Writing Scholarship provides a partial tuition scholarship to an entering Vanderbilt student interested in the field of sports journalism.

Smith Hall


Kelly Miller Smith (1920–1984)

Smith was a Baptist preacher, author and leader in the American civil rights movement. Raised in Mound Bayou, Miss., he entered Tennessee State University in 1938 as a music major. Two years later, he decided to focus on religious studies and received a B.A. in religion and music from Morehouse College in 1942 and a master of divinity degree from Howard University Divinity School in 1945.

Smith moved to Nashville in 1951 and became pastor of First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill, a position he would retain until his death. He became president of the Nashville NAACP in 1956 and co-founded the Nashville Christian Leadership Council in 1958. Through the NCLC, he helped to organize and support the local student sit-in movement that would successfully end racial segregation at lunch counters in Nashville.

From 1968 to 1984, Smith served as assistant dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School, where he taught Church and Ministry. His papers, which are housed at Special Collections at Vanderbilt University Library, illuminate his skill as a creative and inspiring leader in religious thought, as an academician, and as an active citizen and conscience of the broader community. Through the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on Black Church Studies at Vanderbilt, his work endures in the education of leaders in ministry, the promotion of dialogue between African American theologians and church leaders, and the development of research materials.

Delbrück Hall


Max Ludwig Henning Delbrück (1906–1981)

A German-American biophysicist, Delbrück was born in 1906 in Berlin. He studied astrophysics, shifting toward theoretical physics, at the University of Göttingen. After receiving his Ph.D., he met Wolfgang Pauli and Niels Bohr and became interested in biology. In 1937, he was offered a Rockefeller fellowship in the biology division at Caltech to research the genetics of the fruit fly. While at Caltech, Delbrück became acquainted with bacteria and their viruses. He remained in the United States during World War II and taught physics at Vanderbilt from 1940 to 1947 while continuing his genetic research.

In 1942, Delbrück and Salvador Luria of Indiana University demonstrated that bacterial resistance to virus infection is caused by random mutation and not adaptive change. This research, known as the Luria-Delbrück experiment, also was significant for its use of mathematics to make quantitative predictions for the results to be expected from alternative models. For that work, they were awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1969, sharing it with Alfred Hershey. In late 1946, Delbrück accepted a professorship at Caltech, where he remained until his death.

Elliston Hall


Elizabeth Boddie Elliston (1820–1904)

Elliston was a community leader and philanthropist who donated segments of her plantation for the formation of the Vanderbilt campus. She sold one of the original five tracts of land comprising the campus to Bishop Holland McTyeire for the grand sum of $5 on June 24, 1873. A faithful and devoted member of the Methodist Church, Elliston was exceptionally generous to the founding and growing of Vanderbilt.  Over the next 12 years she would sell to the university four more parcels of her large plantation for extremely reasonable prices.

Born in Sumner County, Tenn., Elliston was co-founder and first president of the Vanderbilt Aid Society, which was among the very first societies to provide financial assistance to worthy students at the university. She also was named its president in 1894 at the age of 74, and her support of the society lasted throughout her lifetime.