A group of Roosevelt University alumni from Chicago’s south-side and south suburbs is marking more than 30 years since the election of late Chicago mayor and fellow alumnus Harold Washington, by naming a Roosevelt University student lounge in his honor. Room 312 in Roosevelt University’s Wabash Building has been dedicated for use by students as the Harold Washington Lounge, thanks to the efforts of the South Side Chapter of the Roosevelt University Alumni Association.
“We want Roosevelt students to be aware of and connected to one of Roosevelt’s most celebrated alumni,” said Shundra Johnson, a 2010 Roosevelt graduate, MA Integrated Marketing Communications, and president of Roosevelt’s south-side and south suburban alumni chapter.
“Many of us thought, ‘What better way to remember Harold Washington and cement an association with him for Roosevelt students than to name a room in the mayor’s honor and designate it as a place where students can come to study and relax,” said Johnson.
Washington, a 1949 graduate of Roosevelt and president of the university’s student government during the 1948-49 academic year, was one of Roosevelt’s earliest students whose relationship and experience at the university helped shape his future as a lawyer and as a groundbreaking political leader.
Leticia Ransom, a 1995 MBA graduate of Roosevelt and Chicago south-side resident, led the alumni association campaign to honor one of Roosevelt’s own with the first room at the university ever to be named for Washington. “All of us knew that Harold Washington was a Roosevelt alumnus, and after some discussion, we agreed that it would be the right thing to do in acknowledging and celebrating his many accomplishments,” said Ransom, former president of the alumni association, which raised and donated $10,000 to the university for the naming opportunity.
Don Jones, vice president of Institutional Advancement and chief development officer at Roosevelt, said designation of a student lounge in Washington’s name is important both to Roosevelt and its students. “Harold Washington made tremendous strides as Chicago’s first African American mayor, and is an important part of Roosevelt’s legacy of inclusion and diversity,” said Jones. “He is a wonderful example of the kind of success our graduates have had and can continue to achieve in the future, and I’d like to thank our south-side alumni chapter for its thoughtful and very appropriate donation.”
With more than 8,000 members, the South Side Chapter of the Roosevelt University Alumni Association is Roosevelt’s largest organized alumni group. Its members hail from all over the south side of the city of Chicago and from many of Cook County’s south suburbs.