Campus Landmarks: Bidgood Hall
July 16th, 2012 - Filed under: Connections
In response to postwar demand for accelerated industrial development in the state and the need for men and women to be trained to hold administrative positions, the University created the College of Commerce and Business Administration in 1919.
Lee Bidgood, who had held the chair of economics since its establishment in 1914, was named dean of the College and given complete oversight of the construction of the Commerce Building, which was completed in 1929. He also presided over the recruitment of faculty and the development of the varied curriculum, the business library and the Bureau of Business Research.
Bidgood went on to lead the College of Commerce and Business Administration for some 35 years. During that time it became one of the most highly regarded schools of business in the nation, boasting a remarkably large faculty-to-student ratio that resulted in exceptional personal attention given to each individual student. The dean himself was highly esteemed among students, alumni, fellow faculty and his superiors.
As Bidgood’s mandatory retirement year drew near, the Commerce Association petitioned the trustees to honor the dean’s decades of meritorious service by naming the Commerce Building “Bidgood Hall.” The request to name a public building after a living person required legislative approval, so although the building was not officially dedicated with this name for more than a year, the newspapers, students, alumni and University publications began immediately referring to the Commerce Building as Bidgood Hall, suggesting that they would think of it as such regardless of whether legislature approved the name change.
In 1952, the dedication was made official in a celebratory event attended by notable business and industrial leaders from across the state. University president Dr. John M. Gallalee, who was known to frequently enjoy sitting in on Bidgood’s lectures, told the assembled, “The University does great honor to itself in naming this building Lee Bidgood Hall.”
Bidgood, who was reportedly greatly embarrassed by the proceedings, remarked, “Buildings are only as useful as the people in them. May truth be taught in this building and may that truth set our children free.”
Since it was renamed some 60 years ago, Bidgood Hall has undergone several expansions, followed by a full renovation in 1994. It is now a central part of a technologically integrated three-building business complex including Alston Hall and the Bashinsky/Bruno library and computer center.
Today, in an elegant three-room suite just inside the main entrance, it houses the Alabama Business Hall of Fame Gallery, featuring photos and memorabilia. Professional, research and service centers of the Culverhouse College of Business Administration are located in Bidgood Hall and it boasts 32 traditional classrooms, several multimedia classrooms, two television studios, an e-commerce facility and the Special Projects Lab. The Asa. H. Bean Student Services and Undergraduate Student Lounge are located on the ground floor.
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