The University of St. Thomas is naming its original downtown campus building in honor of its chancellor and former president, Monsignor Terrence Murphy.

Since its opening in fall 1992, the building has been referred to as the St. Thomas Minneapolis campus, or simply by its address, 1000 LaSalle. Its first, formal name is now Terrence Murphy Hall.

The decision to name the building was announced at St. Thomas’ board meeting Thursday, Feb. 17.

“It gives us great pleasure to name our first Minneapolis campus building after Monsignor Murphy,” said the Rev. Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas. “He long held dreams of a St. Thomas presence in Minneapolis, and those dreams resulted in the beautiful structure that now will bear his name.”

A ceremony to formally rename the building will be held there Thursday, May 11, following the spring meeting of the board of trustees.

Murphy’s reaction to the announcement was “total surprise … I never expected this.”

During his 25-year tenure as president, from 1966 to 1991, Murphy led St. Thomas’ evolution from a small liberal arts college to a comprehensive university. During those years St. Thomas became coeducational, added a dozen graduate programs, and grew from 2,000 students to 9,000 students.

Murphy became St. Thomas’ first chancellor in June 1991, and continues to work and live on the university’s 115-year-old main campus in St. Paul.

It was during his tenure that St. Thomas first considered an expansion to Minneapolis. In the mid-1980s, with grants from the Minneapolis Community Development Agency and Downtown Council, the university conducted feasibility studies and in 1987 opened a temporary campus in the remodeled first floor of the former Powers department store. A few hundred students were expected but within a few years the trial campus enrolled 1,100.

A decision was made to build a permanent downtown facility and with help from the city, St. Thomas opened the campus at 1000 LaSalle in fall 1992. The $15 million, 150,000-square-foot building is home to St. Thomas’ Graduate School of Business, now the fourth largest in the United States, the Graduate Department of Professional Psychology, and one of the largest frescoes in the country.

Terrence Murphy Hall marked the beginning of a growing St. Thomas presence in downtown Minneapolis.

Last fall, the university opened Opus Hall, home of the St. Thomas School of Education. The $14.5 million, 98,000-square-foot building is directly north of Terrence Murphy Hall and is attached to the new K-12 Interdistrict Downtown School. The schools and an underground, city-owned parking ramp are collectively called the Minneapolis Education Center.

Terrence Murphy Hall will be the temporary first home of the St. Thomas School of Law, which will open in September 2001. The law school will move into a new building directly to the south, on the 1100 block of LaSalle, in September 2003.

“When we first began our discussions about Minneapolis, I felt we needed to establish a strong presence,” Murphy said. “We planned an academic building, not just an office building with classrooms. And we hoped for not just one building, but an integrated downtown campus.

“With the original building, Opus Hall, and the law school, the idea of a campus has become a reality,” he said. “Our growth in Minneapolis, and especially the way we have been welcomed as part of the community, has far exceeded my expectations.”