Princeton Renames Building After Literary Icon Toni Morrison


November 30, 2017

Photo credit: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders 

Toni Morrison is nothing short of one of the most influential literary voices of our time. Now, Princeton University, where she became an emeritus faculty member in 2006, has sealed her legacy on its campus with a building named in her honor. 

The Ivy League has dedicated one of its most distinguished  buildings, West College, to Morrison. It is now called Morrison Hall. The iconic writer began her career at Princeton in 1989, teaching literature and creative writing. By 1993, Morrison became the first African American to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. 


“How fitting that the first building named through this process will now honor a teacher, an artist and a scholar who not only has graced our campus with the highest imaginable levels of achievement and distinction, but who has herself spoken eloquently about the significance of names on the Princeton campus,” said Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber. 

Photo via: Princeton University  

Ruth Simmons, the first Black Ivy League President, helped recruit Morrison to Princeton when she served as its acting director of the Center for African American Studies. 


According to the school’s website, Simmons recalled “‘the first experience Toni had of Princeton, and the first experience Princeton had of Toni,’ when Morrison arrived on campus to give a reading during a record snowstorm. Even though classes and events were cancelled, Simmons said ‘nothing’ deterred those wanting to hear this ‘magnificent voice.’

A few days before the dedication ceremony, a portrait of Morrison by Paul Wyse was hung up in Morrison Hall. 


Photo by: Nick Donnoli, Princeton’s Office of Communications


“This is a very, very special, beautiful occasion for me,” Morrison said during the ceremony. 

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