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The Antelope

Sorority housing honors trailblazing journalist

Diana+Armstrong+and+Chancellor+Doug+Kristensen+cut+the+ribbon+of+Armstrong+Hall.+Photo+by+Jenna+Heinz+%2F+Antelope+Staff
Diana Armstrong and Chancellor Doug Kristensen cut the ribbon of Armstrong Hall. Photo by Jenna Heinz / Antelope Staff

heinzj@lopers.unk.edu

Campus marked history with the dedication of Bess Furman Armstrong Hall on Thursday. The celebration honored the life and legacy of the hall’s namesake, an American journalist and 1917 graduate of Nebraska State Normal School at Kearney.

Kelly Bartling, vice chancellor for enrollment management and marketing, said the campus wanted to honor the legacy of UNK women when naming the building.

“When we looked at our history books and at the history of the University, Mrs. Armstrong stood out,” Bartling said. “We’re calling her a trailblazer. Seeing a woman from rural Nebraska who was ahead of her time, seeing all that she did with her career, her life and her family – I think it’s an important story to tell.”

During her time in Kearney, became the first female editor of The Antelope student newspaper. She later worked for the Associated Press and The New York Times, covering the White House during five presidential administrations. Furman Armstrong was also the first woman to hold a top public affairs position with a cabinet agency. 

Chancellor Doug Kristensen welcomed dedication attendees by sharing about Furman Armstrong’s accomplishments.

“Bess Furman Armstrong was a woman from rural Nebraska who found her voice,” Kristensen said. “She fearlessly navigated a world that had a lot of challenges for women and for her as an individual.”

Members of Furman Armstrong’s family came for the hall’s dedication. Diana Armstrong, her daughter-in-law, spoke at the ceremony. 

“Bess would be proud to have this building named in her honor and how others are inspired by the trailblazer that she was,” Diana Armstrong said.

Tours of the new 41,000-square-foot residence hall were provided for those in attendance.

Armstrong Hall holds 140 beds. Each sorority chapter – Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Phi, Alpha Xi Delta and Gamma Phi Beta – has dedicated housing pods, lounges, chapter rooms and study spaces. 

Chapter rooms and a shared lounge are also available for UNK’s multicultural chapters Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority, Lambda Theta Nu sorority and Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity. 

Armstrong Hall and Martin Hall, which reopened as new fraternity housing in January 2023, are part of a $32.65 million Fraternity and Sorority Life housing project. The two halls replace the former FSL housing University Residence North and University Residence South.

One sorority member said the move out of the old housing was “bittersweet” but she’s excited for a new chapter.

“Getting to live in the same buildings as the other chapters will really help us be more of a unified FSL community, especially since Martin Hall is right across the street as well,” said Abby Mieras, president of Alpha Xi Delta. “I think it’s going to be helpful for mixers, social events and just getting to kind of live in the same space as all those people. It makes it a lot more like the living-learning community that a lot of the other campus organizations get to have.”

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Jenna Heinz, Reporter
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