Academic Building & RBAC

1974 - Present

The Rubie Burton Academic Center is Cottey's newest building to date, constructed in 1999 at a cost of $8.9 million. But the precursor to RBAC was the original Academic Building, which was erected 25 years before. In 1999 it was remodeled to become one wing of RBAC (pronounced "R-back").

The Academic Building

By the late 1960s, it was becoming clear that the science facilities in Main Hall were outdated and cramped. More and more women were interested in the sciences and maths, either for their degree or simply as part of a well-rounded education. Cottey saw a dramatic increase in the number of students registering for these courses, and needed modern, larger facilities to meet the demand. The Cottey Junior College Board of Trustees passed a motion for a new laboratory-classroom building, and brought that proposal to the 1967 convention of the P.E.O. Supreme Chapter in Seattle, Washington.2 The Supreme Chapter approved the erection of the $1 million building, 80% of which was to be paid out of the college's own Building Fund.

Biology lab, c. 1941
The old bio lab in Main Hall, c. 1940.7
Chemistry lab, c. 1941
The old chem lab in Main Hall, c. 1940.7
Site of the Laboratory Classroom Building, 1969
This 1969 map of Cottey campus shows the future site of the "Laboratory Classroom Building."1 Click for full map.

Construction of the Academic Building began in June 1973.5 It was one story with three wings in the shape of a "U", infused with Georgian architecture to blend with the rest of campus. In the beginning, most classrooms were designated to a certain discipline ― Foreign Language, Math, American History, etc. Also included were three biology laboratories and one chemistry laboratory. Finally the college could repurpose the classrooms and labs of Main Hall and Rosemary Hall. The only departments lacking space in the new building were those of fine art and music, which continued to be housed in Neale, Main, and Rosemary halls.

Some rooms were dedicated to people who donated funds for the building. For example, many monetary gifts were given to the Sisterhood in honor of Helen Evers, outgoing president of the Supreme Chapter.6 Evers requested that these donations be put toward the equipment for the chemistry lab in the new classroom building. Strangely, the student lounge was dedicated to Helen Evers, not the chemistry lab.3 Other rooms honored Mr. and Mrs. F.V. Kerr, Florance M. Harper, Stella Mae Nau, Mada Louise Dunaway, and the Ohio State Chapter.

The building was officially dedicated on November 23, 1974.3 The event was combined with the inauguration of new Cottey president Dr. Evelyn Milam. Another president was there ― Florence Wallace, president of the Supreme Chapter, who formally presented the building to Dr. George Cross, chairman of the Cottey Board of Trustees. Dr. Milam and the Cottey class presidents participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony that afternoon.

Dedication of Academic Building, 1974
Dedication of Academic Building, 1974.3 L-R: Ellen Taylor, freshmen class president; Karel Lyster, senior class president; Dr. Milam, pres. of Cottey College.
Academic lounge, 1966
Academic lounge, c. 1975.
Academic Building floor plan, 1974
Academic Building floor plan, 1974.3

The Proposal for a New Academic Center

The Academic Building lasted for 25 years, but by the 1990s it was losing its lustre. There were no computer labs when the A.B. opened ― as technology progressed and computers became more popular, classroom space had to be converted into computer labs.4 Space was so tight that the rooms and labs had to be reconfigured each year based on class registration. Once again, Cottey needed a new academic building.

In 1994 the firm of Mackay Mitchell Zahner Associates was hired to draw up plans for a new academic center.4 The faculty, Registrar's Office, and Cottey College Facilities Steering Committee were all consulted during the planning process. The finished proposal called for a two-story addition to the Academic Building, containing new science labs, computer labs, a language lab, general classrooms, and faculty offices. Correspondingly, the old Academic Building would be retrofitted to house the art program, student art gallery, general classrooms, and offices. This would consolidate most classes and faculty offices into one complex, double the amount of computer lab space, and dramatically increase the size of the science labs.

Academic Building, c. 1977
Academic Building, c. 1977.8
RBAC proposal sketch, 1995
Rendition of proposed RBAC, 1995.4 The original Academic Building is at left.
Original RBAC floor plan, 1995
The proposed floor plan for RBAC, 1995.4 Note all the art rooms.

The Rubie Burton Academic Center

By the time the Rubie Burton Academic Center (RBAC) was finished in 1999, the plans had changed. The biggest surprise was the college's decision to leave the art department in Neale Hall, which was by this time 60 years old. The old Academic Building (Alumnae Hall) was instead fitted with the computer lab and language lab that were meant for the new addition. Also added to the old building was the Kolderie Academic Assistance Center and administration offices. As planned, the student art gallery is there too ― converted from the old physics room.

The 1999 addition, Nelle Horner Grantham Hall, contains the science facilities, student lounge, and general classrooms, including two technologically 'smart' rooms. There are two chemistry labs with shared prep and storage area, two biology labs, and a physics/astronomy lab.

More Photos

Science lab in the Academic Building, 1980
A science lab in the Academic Building, 1980.9
Hinkhouse at night, 2005
Nelle Horner Grantham Hall at night, 2005.
RBAC floor plan, 2006
Implemented RBAC floor plan with special areas highlighted, 2006.
RBAC classroom, 2006
Classroom 162 in Alumnae Hall, 2006.
RBAC corridor, 2005
A corridor in Alumnae Hall, 2005.
RBAC student lounge, 2005
RBAC student lounge, 2005.

Works Cited:

  1. "Cottey Campus Map." Image. The P.E.O. Record Mar. 1969: 23. Print.
  2. Evers, Helen F. "Official Biennial Report." The P.E.O. Record Nov. 1973: 20. Print.
  3. "Inauguration of Evelyn Milam and Dedication of Science-Academic Building." The P.E.O. Record Feb. 1975: 2-5. Print.
  4. Reed, Steve. "The Proposal for a New Academic Center." The P.E.O. Record May/Jun. 1995: 4-5. Print.
  5. "Report of Board of Trustees, Cottey College." The P.E.O. Record Nov. 1973: 27. Print.
  6. "Notes from the Editor." The P.E.O. Record Nov. 1973: 18. Print.
  7. Cottey Junior College promotional booklet. c. 1940. Print.
  8. Sphinx, The. Yearbook. Nevada, MO: Cottey College, 1977. Print.
  9. Milam, Dr. Evelyn. “Cottey’s Liberal Arts Tradition.” The P.E.O. Record Mar. 1980: 2-3. Print.
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