Rankin Hall

Originally constructed in 1906, Rankin Hall underwent major renovations in 2018 to reconfigure the historic structure into a modern facility, ready to meet the needs of Carroll's newest generation of students. As the third, and final piece of the multi-phase plan to improve academic spaces on campus, Carroll University's Board of Trustees authorized $11 million for improvements. Most of the upgrades were confined to the building's interior because of the historic-nature of the building. Rankin Hall was rededicated on Sept. 14, 2018 and now houses nine technology-infused classrooms, a number of student spaces and 25 offices for faculty predominantly in environmental science, psychology and biology. Carroll University was honored with the 2019 George Gunn Award for Excellence in Architectural Preservation and Historic Restoration from the City of Waukesha Landmarks Commission for the restoration of Rankin Hall.

Rankin Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Rankin Reborn

“Demolishing Rankin was never a consideration. Renovating and restoring it to a modern academic building serves as a perfect symbol for Carroll. We are a University rich in history but we have continued to evolve through the years to remain current...Our campus has a wonderful mix of old and new buildings. Rankin sits prominently now along with our three other historic buildings, as a reminder of our proud heritage.”

— President Cindy Gnadinger

See Dedication Photos on Flickr

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About Walter L. Rankin

Walter Rankin portrait

Rankin Hall is named after Carroll’s second president, Dr. Walter L. Rankin. He served Carroll for nearly 40 years beginning in 1866. Born in Allahabad,India in 1841, where his father was a missionary, Rankin and his family came to America in 1848. He graduated from Princeton University in 1860 at the age of 19. Following college, he taught school in Elizabeth, N.J. and studied law, before being asked to serve at Carroll.

Rankin was a tireless promoter and fundraiser, gradually increasing enrollment and the college’s stature. His childhood friend, Ralph Voorhees, along with his wife Elizabeth, were prominent supporters of a number of religiously-based colleges, Carroll included. The Voorhees’ donations funded the construction of three buildings on campus, including Rankin Hall. The facility originally housed chemistry, biology, geology and physics laboratories and classrooms. Since then, it has been home to many academic programs, including education, religion, history and modern languages. At one time, the Carrier Memorial Library was housed on the top floor of the building.

Project Background

Rankin Hall has stood proudly at Carroll since 1906, when the institution was only 60 years old. It is one of four historic buildings, including Main Hall, Ganfield Gymnasium and Voorhees Hall, to have lent the campus charm and remind us of the university’s long heritage. But a building designed for the education of college students in 1906 was not exactly ideal for 2018 or beyond. Classrooms were cramped, bathrooms seriously outdated and the building infrastructure not well suited for a modern, wired educational facility.

Carroll’s board of trustees developed an $11 million renovation plan for Rankin Hall as the final act in a trio of major construction projects on campus, following the building of the Michael and Mary Jaharis Science Laboratories and Doug and Nancy Hastad Hall. While the exterior of the building was left largely intact to comply with historical preservation guidelines, crews gutted the interior, installed new heating and cooling systems and created new classrooms, offices and numerous informal open gathering spaces where students can study and socialize.

Those informal gathering spaces are important, noted Carroll President Cindy Gnadinger. “Today, we know more about what works in education and that learning is a collaborative process. We wanted to ensure in this building that we created spaces where students could collaborate, with one another, or with faculty. Speaking of faculty, the remodeled building contains numerous faculty offices, a decision made to ensure students would have greater access to faculty.”

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