South Hall was officially renamed Harleston Hall during a ceremony held outside of the building on Friday, Sept. 23.
The building is named after former Professor of Psychology Bernard Harleston, who was Tufts’ first African-American tenure-track faculty member and a former dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences, according to a May 2 Daily article.
Over 200 members of the Tufts community as well as Harleston’s friends, family and colleagues attended the ceremony, according to event organizers.
Provost David Harris kicked off the dedication ceremony. He was followed by a range of speakers including University President Anthony Monaco, current and former Tufts faculty members and Harleston himself.
Monaco related Harleston’s achievements, highlighting his commitment to increasing higher education access for students of color as well as his devotion to his students and colleagues.
“Bernie’s dedication to increasing diversity, inclusion and access to Tufts more than 50 years ago remains a priority and inspiration for us here today,” Monaco said. “As a fellow professor and university president, I am grateful to you, Bernie, for giving so selflessly yourself on behalf of generations of students and faculty and for the many ways you have helped Tufts become the distinguished university it is today.”
Harleston himself spoke about his belief in higher education as a critical path to equality.
“I hope Harleston Hall will become the dorm that students will want to live in. Why? They will want to live in it because it becomes a place of inspiration for creative ideas, that creativity will be respected and enjoyed and appreciated in Harleston Hall,” he said. “I hope they will want to live in it because it will become a diverse community of acceptance and mutual respect. I hope they will want to live in Harleston Hall because it supports good and healthy fun and relaxation.”
Harris brought the ceremony to a close with another short speech.
“Thank you, Bernie, on behalf of everyone in the Tufts community. It’s an honor to dedicate Harleston Hall in recognition of your significant achievements in advancing diversity, inclusion and access to higher education. For 60 years, you’ve been a pioneer, a trailblazer and a dedicated champion of the values that Tufts holds dear,” Harris said.
In an interview with the Daily following the ceremony, Harleston expressed his feelings regarding the dedication.
“All I can say is, I cannot imagine a nicer day and a warmer response. I was really moved to tears by the reception and the fact that so many former students were a part of this,” he said.
Catherine Perloff contributed reporting for this article.