Life in a residence hall can be a major part of coming to college — it’s a time to meet new friends, experience living on your own and center yourself in the hullabaloo that is Berkeley. So as many of UC Berkeley’s incoming students prepare to move into new homes, here’s a breakdown of the histories and namesakes of some campus residence halls.
Davidson Hall — one of six buildings in the Unit 2 complex — is named for Mary B. Davidson, who graduated from UC Berkeley in 1906. Davidson later served on the staff of the campus’s dean of women, and in 1942, she herself was appointed dean of women. She oversaw the construction of the first women’s residence halls on campus, including Stern Hall.
The Wada building, which opened along with the Towle mini-suites in 2005, is named for Yoritada Wada. Wada was a campus alumnus, graduating with a degree in journalism. He was also the first Asian American member of the UC Board of Regents, on which he served from 1977 to 1992. Wada was also a writer and associate editor for The Daily Californian.
Beverly Cleary Hall
One of five halls in the Unit 3 complex, this one takes its name from campus alumna and renowned children’s book author Beverly Cleary. Cleary attended UC Berkeley in the 1930s, and she graduated in 1938 with a degree in English. She would later go on to work as a librarian, and she published her first book in 1950. Her work “Dear Mr. Henshaw” won the Newbery Medal in 1984.
Clark Kerr Campus
Beginning in 1860, what is now the Clark Kerr residence hall was the location of the California School for the Deaf and Blind, which remained open on the site until 1980. A few years later, the site was opened as a residence hall for UC Berkeley students, and it was dedicated to the campus’s first chancellor (and the UC’s 12th president), Clark Kerr. Kerr is remembered for presiding over the university during the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s.
Stern Hall is an all-female residence hall located on the north side of campus, adjacent to the Foothill housing complex. The hall opened in 1942, originally as the “sister” dorm to Bowles Hall, and it was originally funded by a grant from Rosalie Meyer Stern, the widow of campus alumnus Sigmund Stern. The hall was named after the Stern family and designed by William Wurster, a campus dean of architecture as well as the namesake of Wurster Hall.
Ida L. Jackson
The Ida Louise Jackson Graduate House apartments are located on one of the main drags leading up to campus, and they offer housing to graduate students. The building takes its name after a pioneer in education and a UC Berkeley alumna, Ida Louise Jackson. Jackson enrolled on campus in 1920 as one of just 17 Black students at UC Berkeley. She was one of the first Black women to receive certification to teach in California schools, and in 1926, she became the first Black woman to teach in the Oakland public school system, where she worked on and off until 1953. She later managed her family’s sheep ranch in Mendocino County, which she ultimately donated to the campus in order to raise funds to support fellowships for Black graduate students.
Maximino Martinez Commons
The Maximino Martinez Commons residence hall opened in 2012, and it gives housing priority to sophomore and upper-division students. It was named in honor of Maximino Martinez, a UC Berkeley alumnus who passed away in 2003. Martinez worked on campus for nearly 20 years, notably in the UC Berkeley Financial Aid and Scholarships Office and the Division of Student Affairs, as well as with the Incentive Awards Program, a program that provides support for low-income and first-generation students.
Contact Camryn Bell at [email protected].