ST. CLOUD -- A little over a year ago, St. Cloud State University professor Christopher Lehman started a campaign to change the name of the 51 Building, after a woman who broke barriers while being St. Cloud through and through.

Ruby Cora Webster, photo courtesy of SCSU Archives
Ruby Cora Webster, photo courtesy of SCSU Archives

Monday, Lehman sees his work pay off. 51 Building will be dedicated as "Ruby Cora Webster Hall" during a ceremony at 3:00 p.m. The official name change happened back in May, however, Lehman wanted the ceremony to time with SCSU's 150th anniversary.

The 51 Building was originally the Herberger Business School -- when that moved -- it switched to its nondescript name.

Lehman says the name change makes sense because Webster wasn't only a pioneer, she was also St. Cloud to the bone.

"She had come to St. Cloud when she was a year old in 1891, went to public school here, graduated from what was then St. Cloud High School in 1908, then a year later received an elementary education degree from St. Cloud State Normal School."

Webster moved on to teach in Kansas City for a time after her graduation from SCSU. Finally winding up in Canada, where she lived until her death in 1974. Lehman says, through Webster's granddaughter, he found that she never once stopped thinking of St. Cloud as her home.

"Ruby never stopped considering St. Cloud her home. This was home for her. No matter how long she lived in Kansas or Canada, she always remembered St. Cloud fondly."

Lehman says Webster's father, John Wesley Webster was a former slave. He worked in the Granite City as a barber, eventually running a cloth-dyeing shop downtown for over 15 years.

The event Monday is open to the public and about 15 of Webster's descendants are expected to be in attendance.

Ruby Cora Webster Hall houses three departments: English, Ethnic and Women's Studies, and Political Science.

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