A  merging of history, tradition: Benedictine honors Mesa residents during holiday open house

December 21, 2013

Glover gd and mom Mesa, Arizona ~ Benedictine University at Mesa and District 4 Councilman Chris Glover hosted community members who had ties to the old Southside Hospital at an open house at the University’s Gillett Hall on Thursday, December 19.

“This is my first time back since I was born here,” Mesa resident Denny Yee said. “It is absolutely great that this has become a university that continues on in a new life.”

Administrators at Benedictine – a University with more than 126 years of history and tradition – understood the need to involve the community with the school that would be serving them. University officials said the event was not only a holiday celebration and open house, but a way to express gratitude to the Mesa community for dodgewelcoming the branch campus and to affirm the personal ties families have to the renovated building.

“When we began this project (establishing the Mesa branch campus academic building), we promised the city that we would honor and pay tribute to the history surrounding our building,” said Charlie Gregory, executive vice president of Benedictine University. “We did that tonight and took great joy from seeing how the community has embraced us and the transformation of a place that has such special memories and personal value in their lives.”

Student Ambassadors provided tours for guests who shared stories about their work experiences, family memories and surgeries at the yeehospital.

Mesa resident Roberta Davis Dodge, who worked as a nurse’s aide in the south wing during the 1960s, called the building “impressive.” She said that what is now the library was central supply during her time at Southside Hospital. She recounted a story about a fire one night at a fuel storage facility adjacent to the hospital.

“We were frequently monitoring the door on the south wing to determine if we would need to evacuate the hospital,” she said. Thankfully, they did not.

Councilman Glover’s grandfather, Eugene Swenson, M.D., was a surgeon at Southside Hospital. Glover’s mother, Ann Glover, shared memories about visiting the nurses’ station during trips to the hospital with her father.

“My dad brought me on my first rounds when I was 6 years old,” she said. “Back in those days, he was on call every other night in the emergency room. I was interested in medicine, so he would bring me on occasion and I would wait at the nurses’ station. He would take me to visit his patients and we would just tell them ‘hello.’

“I would walk the halls with him,” she added. “I watched several operations in the operating room. Everyone was very efficient and very skilled. It reminded me of M*A*S*H.”

When asked about the building, she replied, “Oh, my goodness. It is beautiful. Only one hallway near where the patients were looks the same.”

Between hors d'œuvres and usual holiday chatter, residents toured Gillett Hall and quizzed students on their experiences at Arizona’s first and only four-year Catholic university campus. Students energetically explained why they chose to attend Benedictine and how they believe it was the right choice for them.

 “Something cool I’ve seen here is the new type of education,” one student replied. “It’s problem-based. No lectures. There are some struggles to (switching to that type of learning) that we as students identified. We had a couple meetings with our professors and explained to them what we were having problems with and offered some ways we could maybe change things.

“So it’s not just ‘this is the way we do it and that’s the way we are going to do it,’” he added. “There is feedback from the students and feedback from the faculty, and we get together to find a solution.”

More than 150 guests, including Benedictine alumni, prospective students from as far away as Tucson, city officials, parents, donors and community dignitaries attended the event at Gillett Hall, the former Southside Hospital building located at 225 E. Main St. now serving as the University’s academic building. Gillett Hall underwent a $10 million, yearlong renovation before opening to classes in September.

Gillett Hall is named in honor of Willis Gillett, chair of the Benedictine University Board of Trustees. It has capacity for nine classrooms, including an interactive classroom with non-traditional, flexible furniture, a nutrition lab featuring kitchenettes with residential appliances, a computer lab, chapel, a “Spirit Store” which offers Benedictine merchandise, a library center and a community room.

Benedictine University – the fastest growing university in the country – provides a private, values-based education grounded in history, heritage and Catholic tradition. Current degree offerings include a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Bachelor of Arts in Theology, Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Bachelor of Business Administration in Management and Organizational Behavior, in addition to a minor in Religious Studies.

For more information about Benedictine’s faculty, majors and future events, please visit www.ben.edu/mesa or the Gregory Enrollment Center at 51 E. Main St., Suite 105 in downtown Mesa, or contact us at (602) 888-5533 or mesa@ben.edu.

The University is accepting applications for spring and fall 2014 enrollment.



Benedictine University at Mesa is a branch campus of Benedictine University, an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine is ranked No. 1 among the country’s fastest-growing campuses between 2000-2010 in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of private nonprofit research institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among “America’s Top Colleges” for the third consecutive year in 2013. Education and technology blog edcetera named Benedictine University at Mesa among 10 universities in the nation on the cutting edge of tech for 2013.


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