In 1964 the University of Portland had a projected enrollment of 1850 students. With the dedication of Mehling Hall (with a planned capacity for 367 residents), we expanded the residence offerings to allow 535 women and 395 men to live on campus. As we begin the 2014-2015 academic year, we have 1117 women and 905 men living in on-campus residence halls. And venerable Mehling Hall (capacity 381 students) continues to serve the University community. The ‘Tree of Life’ mosaic sculpture on the front façade remains an apt symbol of the vitality, joy, and friendships that grow among the 376 students (including RAs) who currently call Mehling home during their years at UP.
Rev. Theodore Mehling, C.S.C. was the 11th president of the University, serving from 1946-1950. The formal dedication of Mehling Hall on November 22, 1964 featured Mrs. Donald Frazer as the principal speaker. Gretchen Frazer earned a Gold Medal in Skiing at the 1948 Olympic games at St. Moritz. As part of the dedication activities, earlier in the month the women’s social sorority, Sigma Beta Phi, sponsored a performance by entertainer Jack Benny in the Mehling ballroom. Working the college-age crowd, the comedian continued to insist as always on being only 39 years old; though in fact his national broadcasts and celebrity had begun well before any of the students were born. (Mr. Benny’s radio program ran on NBC & CBS from 1932-1955; his television show, 1950-1965. Our current Hollywood connection, Kunal Nayyar ’03, lived in Corrado during his first two years on campus).
An eight story residence, at that time Mehling was the tallest building on campus and in surrounding north Portland. The dedication program notes as a special feature of the hall, “Two high speed Westinghouse electronically controlled automatic elevators.” The ‘speed claim’ of the elevators is today regarded by many residents as skeptically as Jack Benny’s famous claim to be a robust 39.