Oliver Hall: The Renamed Hall

Newest residence hall honors important alum.

Oliver Hall is one of the newest additions to the Whitworth campus.. Construction began in the winter of 2008, and the residence hall was opened in the fall of 2009, costing a total of $11.6 million. Upon its opening, the building was named East ( for lack of a major donor to the project) and described as a "170 bed facility that houses all four class levels in single, double, and triple rooms and it featured unique common rooms, large group and small group meeting areas, study spaces, and a recreational room." Designed by well-respected Spokane developer Dick Vandervert, East Hall was constructed to be eco-friendly. The residence hall is "LEED certified by U.S. green building council, had dual flush toilets to waste less water, and the furniture in the common areas were made of 100% recyclable material."

Originally named "East," the residence hall was renamed "Oliver" in the summer of 2015, in honor of a Board of Trustee and Walter Oliver (Class of '67). Oliver, an African American, graduated from Whitworth University with a degree in psychology. As a student, he was a wrestler, a football player, musician, and an active member of the human relations council. As a wrestler, Oliver helped Whitworth defeat their rivals (the Gonzaga Bulldogs) by pinning his opponent in under "one minute and thirty-one seconds." Oliver was also a champion outside the mat. He served as Chairman of Human Relations Council, a "committee designed to do a meaningful job of educating individuals for involvement in a merging world of reality and life." The efforts of Oliver as chairman were methods to not only strengthen and reinforce Christian doctrines, but also to "afford a genuine witness to the world that Christianity is alive and real in a meaningful context to the situation of the world."

After graduating Whitworth, Oliver attained a Master's Degree at Gonzaga and began working for Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation in 1973. Due to his impressive work experience, Oliver became Vice President of Human Resources at Johnson Controls Inc. in Milwaukee, where he served from 1990-1994. At this company, Oliver was responsible for the "54,000 employees in all parts of the world by representing 8 major industries and achieving a company sales of 6.3 million dollars in sales." After working for Johnson Controls, Oliver moved to a different company, General Dynamics, where he became the Senior Vice President of Human Relations. There, Oliver oversaw the "human resources and administration for a defense and aerospace company. General Dynamics employs 80,000 individuals and $30 billion in sales all over the country and the world."

Walt Oliver was a significant donor for the building of Lied Center for the Visual Arts and the Bryan Oliver Gallery,as well as a donor to many additional projects on campus including the Cowles Music Center.

In addition to his financial contributions, Walt Oliver served as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2008 to 2014. Under his leadership, the University transitioned to a new President--Beck Taylor, and Oliver oversaw major additions to the campus such as: Robinson Science Hall, The Hixon Union Building expansion, the University Recreation Center, and the Lied Center for the Visual Arts."
Oliver demonstrated spiritual leadership during his term as a board member. His plan was to "deepen the institution's commitments to academic excellence, and the integration of Christian faith while equipping graduates to respond to God's call on their lives with intellectual competence, and moral courage." According to current Whitworth President Beck A. Taylor, Oliver's generosity and influence positively affected and changed the community for the better, and the Hall stands as a testimony to his efforts and love for the institution.