Auburn honors trailblazers Matthews, Holloway with residence hall namings
Two residence halls in Auburn’s Village area now bear the names of two late “trailblazers” who made history and whose contributions to the university have led to meaningful change. Tiger Hall was renamed on April 16 in honor of Bessie Mae Holloway, Auburn’s first African American Board of Trustees member, and Eagle Hall was renamed on April 21 in honor of Josetta Brittain Matthews, Auburn’s first African American graduate and faculty member. Earlier this year, Auburn also dedicated the Harold D. Melton Student Center in honor of the chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and first African American president of the Auburn Student Government Association.
The most recent naming ceremonies in honor of Matthews and Holloway were held outside of the residence halls that now bear their name. Matthews graduated from Laboratory High School on the campus of Alabama State University and received her bachelor’s degree in French and political science from Indiana University Bloomington in 1965. The following year, two years after Harold Franklin integrated Auburn in 1964, Matthews enrolled at Auburn.
She became the school’s first African American graduate by earning a master’s degree in education in 1966. Matthews became Auburn’s first Black faculty member in 1972 by joining the College of Liberal Arts as a French and history instructor and earned her doctorate at Auburn in 1975.
Holloway—the school’s first African American Board of Trustees member—represented the 1st Congressional District in that capacity from 1985-2000 and was a lifelong resident of Prichard, Alabama, before her passing on Sept. 11, 2019. The residence hall renaming in her honor was inspired by Holloway’s commitment to student issues and reputation as “a students’ trustee.”