Reflections on the Grand Reopening of Pillsbury Hall

Pillsbury Hall supporters and partners share their memories of the project and vision for the future of the building, Department of English, and the Liberal Arts Engagement Hub. 

Video Reflections

Joan T.A. Gabel

President Joan T.A. Gabel celebrates the reopening of Pillsbury Hall.

"The Pillsbury Hall of 2021 signals the University of Minnesota's investment in the liberal arts and our belief in the critical role that the arts and humanities play in understanding our world and shaping a better future for all."

Joan T.A. Gabel, University President


Andrew Elfenbein 

Andrew Elfenbein, chair and professor of English, discusses the value that Pillsbury Hall will bring to the Department of English.

"I want this to create a sense of belonging, a sense of ownership around these [student] spaces that will make people want to come to them and be excited about being part of the learning experience in English. On top of that, we have a spectacular space on the fourth floor for events and for learning. English sponsors many, many exciting free events... We can't wait to welcome you to that space. It's going to be amazing."

Andrew Elfenbein, chair and professor of English


Robin Hickman-Winfield 

Robin Hickman-Winfield discusses the Liberal Arts Engagement Hub.

"Being a part of this experience here at the U now... to be a part of something that's going to help create a space here on campus so more community members, diverse community members, can take their rightful place here on campus, and then go back to community and be ambassadors. The University of Minnesota, especially for such a time as this, is a place for us. It's our place. We feel a sense of ownership of this campus."

Robin Hickman-Winfield, Liberal Arts Engagement Hub advisor


Shirley Garner and Madelon Sprengnether

Professors Shirley Garner and Madelon Sprengnether tell the story of the Department of English finding a new home at Pillsbury Hall.

"I have to say, this is an absolutely gorgeous building. On the outside, and now it's beautiful on the inside. One of our colleagues, [Regents Professor Emerita] Patricia Hampl, used to say architecture is destiny. The space you live in does affect how you feel about yourself. And if you are in beautiful surroundings, it is uplifting. . . . This is a great building and it's a great department. So we finally came together."

Madelon Sprengnether, Regents Professor emerita

May Lee-Yang

Writer, performer, and BA/MFA alumna May Lee-Yang describes the impact of the Department of English finding a new home at Pillsbury Hall.

"Even though we live in the digital age these days, I think that brick and mortar is still completely important. Before words land on a page they need to be created. And I think that having a space that nurtures the people who create these words is important. When I go into other buildings, I can see their histories on the wall. I know exactly what they're studying. And I'm really excited about the idea that you can enter a space and know exactly that this is the place for writers and readers."

May Lee-Yang, alumna


Kerstin Tuttle

Graduate student Kerstin Tuttle shares how she's excited to both learn and teach in Pillsbury Hall.

"Being able to bring students in for office hours into a space that feels friendly and welcoming makes a big difference... Especially after a year of Zoom meetings, I'm really excited to have such a wonderful space to meet with people."

Kerstin Tuttle, graduate student


Ethan Voss

Undergraduate Ethan Voss talks about how Pillsbury Hall will build community amongst students and faculty.

"[Being in Pillsbury Hall] will allow us to engage more with each other and work more closely on a lot of various topics. I am really interested in having a student body kind of refocus on building community, not just community between the students, but between the faculty and staff as well."

Ethan Voss, English major

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