FEATURE — Spring 2008

Harry and Susan Seigle stand in front of the construction site for the new social sciences/law building named in their honor.

Social Sciences/Law Building Honors Seigles’ Generosity

by Barbara Rea

Alumnus and philanthropist Harry Seigle, and his wife, Susan, have provided the lead gift for a building under construction on the western end of the Danforth Campus. When completed, it will serve academic functions for three social science departments in Arts & Sciences and for the School of Law. Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton announced the $10 million commitment in November.

When it opens in fall 2008, the building will be known as Harry and Susan Seigle Hall. The name is particularly significant, for it represents the first academic building on the Danforth Campus to be named for an alumnus living outside of St. Louis.

Both Edward S. Macias and Kent D. Syverud, deans of Arts & Sciences and of the School of Law, respectively, are delighted at how Seigle Hall will increase collaboration among the Arts & Sciences’ economics, political science, and education departments and the School of Law. Both stressed the importance of creating a physical space to foster new kinds of interaction required by interdisciplinary scholarship.

“Today, the social sciences are poised at the threshold of a new era of dynamic growth and discovery,” says Macias, also executive vice chancellor and the Barbara and David Thomas Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences. “This building will allow, for the first time, faculty and students to have state-of-the-art facilities located near their collaborators in law and business,” he adds.

“The interdisciplinary space is both beautiful and strategically important. Harry and Susan Seigle Hall will wonderfully cement our strong ties here between the law school and the social sciences,” notes Syverud, who also holds the Ethan A.H. Shepley University Professorship in the School of Law.

“When considered alone, Harry and Susan Seigle’s commitment for our new building is a significant contribution to the future of this University. When considered as the most recent of a series of major gifts to this institution, it is an extraordinary show of support,” states Wrighton. “We are incredibly fortunate to receive their generous gifts.

“Most important, Susan and Harry are exemplary citizens of Washington University, and their dedication takes many forms,” Wrighton continues. The Seigles attend and support numerous University events. Harry Seigle has even served in several official capacities, including as a member of the Board of Trustees for the University, a member of the Arts & Sciences National Council, and a founding chair of the Chicago Regional Cabinet.

For Harry Seigle, who has had a lifelong interest in political science and law, the connection with this building was natural. Exceptional generosity toward civic, educational, and cultural institutions also comes naturally, especially for his alma mater.

His emotional ties here must have influenced the two sons who also claim Washington University’s Arts & Sciences as their alma mater: Joe graduated in 2005, and Max in 2000. Harry’s brother, Michael, also is an alumnus.

The range of gifts over the years demonstrates the Seigles’ true commitment to enhancing many areas of academic and residential life. In addition to Seigle Hall, there is Seigle Commons in the Village, the Seigle Family Scholarships in Arts & Sciences, and the Seigle Family Professorship, recently given to Ping Wang, who chairs the Department of Economics. Wang and his colleagues will occupy the third floor of Seigle Hall.

Harry Seigle graduated from Washington University in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. After graduating from Northwestern University with a law degree, he practiced law until joining the family lumber business in 1974. At that time it was known as the Elgin Lumber Company, but later it was renamed Seigle’s Inc. Under Seigle’s direction as chair and president, the firm flourished, growing into the largest building material supplier to homebuilders in Chicago.

After Seigle’s was sold in 2005, he established The Elgin Company, a private real estate acquisition and investment firm for which he serves as principal.

The Boston-based architectural firm Kallmann McKinnell and Wood designed Seigle Hall, a Collegiate Gothic facility. The building will occupy 145,736 square feet and contain 14 classrooms, the most of any Danforth Campus building.

Continuing the University’s commitment to environmental sustainability, Seigle Hall has been designed as a green structure, and thus eligible for LEED certification. LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a nationally accepted rating system for the design, construction, and operation of buildings that use methods for achieving environmental sustainability. All buildings being constructed currently and in the future will be built according to LEED specifications.

Barbara Rea is director of major events and special projects in the Office of Public Affairs.