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Sept. 27, 2004

ULM Says Good Bye to Campus Fixture-Olin Hall

In a matter of seconds, eight to be exact, Olin Hall, a University of Louisiana at Monroe fixture for almost 40 years, was gone in a huge puff of dust. When the dust cloud cleared, a pile of bricks, the middle stairwell and other building material was all that was left of the former men's residence Hall.

On Saturday, September 25, thousands of ULM faculty, staff, students, alum and supporters lined the 1000 ft. safety zone around Olin Hall to catch a glimpse of the implosion. Over 260 of those people were on the 7th floor of the ULM Library in the University Conference Center to take in the event. Ticket holders to "Bringing Down the House" (in the conference center) were treated to a champagne brunch and a front row view of Olin from the 6th and 7th floor library balconies.

One ULM Graduate, Danny Kyle, flew in from Chicago to view the demise of Olin. "It is an important turning point in the history of ULM. Olin was here in '79 when I graduated."

Kyle also remarked about things to come. "It is a vision of the future, seeing Olin come down. It's what is going to rise from this that makes this such an exciting event for me," Kyle said.

As time drew nearer to 10 a.m., the set time for the implosion, an audible countdown was chanted from the 7th floor. "Five, 4, 3, 2, 1," shouted the crowd. The nine explosions to shake the foundation of the building were loud and after it collapsed, people cheered.

Eric Hogan, President of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce, and Ann Raines, full time ULM graduate student and former Monroe City Council member, pushed the buttons to set off the implosion. They were all smiles once it was over and said having the chance to push the buttons was worth every penny they paid. The two purchased the chance to implode Olin for $8,000 during a live action at Envision ULM 2004.

Dr. George Walker, president of ULM when Olin Hall was built in 1967, was on the 7th floor of the library to see the dormitory he put up, go down in history. "It's very special to be able to be here and (reflect on) the time that was spent as president and the building of Olin Hall and most of the other buildings on campus. We are talking about a half a century," said Walker.

"It is unreal. How lucky can a fellow be? Maybe fortunate is a better word. Building new buildings, we never gave a thought about tearing buildings down, but we are tearing down what was great at one time, but it will be replaced with modern buildings- so we express gratitude to President Cofer and his staff for their leadership and continuing the great development of this university."

Another leader in the community, Mayor Jamie Mayo, gave recognition to current ULM President, Dr. James E. Cofer for his vision. "I think it (Olin's demolition) shows progress in the form of turning the corner and moving into the 21st century," Mayo said.

"I give Dr. Cofer a lot of credit for his leadership in heading this effort and leading the excitement that you see here today," Mayo said.

Among the crowd gathered at ULM was J.P. Pierce, President of the ULM Alumni Association. He commented on Olin, too. "The implosion kick-off is another rebirth of this university, started by the Envision event," Pierce said.

"The buzz around campus and the community from students to bank executives is great. They are all seeing what this university means- it's a rejuvenated community spirit."

The debris from Olin's implosion should be cleared within 2-3 months. The remaining staircase of Olin should be knocked down the week of Sept. 27, according to Anderson Excavators. Anderson has a contract with ULM that extends until Jan. 26th- the debris from Olin should be completely gone by this date.

The new apartment-style residence halls to be built in place of Olin will have high-speed Internet access and free cable access. The project, which will be built and managed by JPI, Inc., is expected to be complete by the fall of 2005.

President Cofer summed up the demolition with a few words, "It's been a labor of love."

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