Hall renamed to honor former administrator

Dr. Roger Pulliam in the UW-Whitewater photo studio on December 20, 2017.


Dr. Roger Pulliam in the UW-Whitewater photo studio on December 20, 2017.

Mason Thompson, Assistant Campus News Editor

On Saturday, April 2 the UW-Whitewater community gathered in the University Center to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Roger Pulliam through the renaming of Starin Hall to Pulliam Hall. 

“His influence stretched well beyond the Whitewater community and touched the lives of students of color in this state,” said Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs Artanya Wesley. “He uses an expansive network to expose Black students to high standards of academic excellence, professionalism and giving students critical life skills to lead successful lives. Dr. Pulliam exemplified Black excellence long before it became a hashtag and was popular on social media.”

Honorees, family members, students and staff from UW-Whitewater gather for a picture after UW-Whitewater received two statewide awards: an Outstanding Achievement Commendation for the Little Scholars mentoring program and the first annual Lifetime of Service award given to Dr. Roger Pulliam (seated) at the Ann Lydecker Educational Diversity Award ceremony Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, in the State Assembly chamber at the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. The awards are given annually by the State Council on Affirmative Action. (UW-W WHITEWATER/ CRAIG SCHREINER)

Pulliam had a 60-year career in education, where he showed an unheard-of dedication to helping his students and advocating for more diverse students and educators, and promoting the success of his students and community. He worked at UW-Whitewater from 1989 to 2018, serving in a variety of different roles for the campus, including serving as the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Academic Support Services, Director of Advisement, and Interim Chief Diversity Officer. 

“Everybody here has been touched in so many different ways by him,” Director of Student Diversity Engagement and Success John Dominguez Jr, a former student of Pulliam’s. “I am a better person because of him. He taught me lessons of life. And sometimes you don’t always learn them from your parents. He is real with you, and he is straight up with you.” 

Pulliam was the first in his family to graduate from both high school and college. He helped hundreds of students participate in travel-study experiences, and those efforts helped him as a founding member of the Office of National Black Student Union. Pulliam was the inaugural recipient of the Lifetime of Service Award from the Wisconsin State Council, an achievement that he celebrated at the State Capitol of Wisconsin in October of 2019. Alumni from several decades ago until the late 2010s were guided by Pulliam, some even calling him a hero and teacher to them in so many ways. A multitude of his students have gone on to make strides in the state of Wisconsin and across the country, including Tiffany Tardy. 

“I did not want to go to UW-Whitewater,” Tardy, the former Assistant Director of University Housing, said. “Post-graduation, I still had no job, and I thought I was going to go back to Milwaukee, and Dr. Richard McGregory said, ‘Well, why don’t you come up here and you can go to grad school?’ Maybe an hour later, there was Dr. Roger Pulliam calling me. He told me to just come and visit UW-Whitewater. Pulliam also told me, ‘You need to go to graduate school if you want to actually work and get respect, and be able to do this work in higher education.’ The point of it all is that, before he had even met me, he felt something that I didn’t even know I had in me all those years ago.” 

UW-Whitewater held a commemorative event to celebrate the renaming of Starin Hall to Pulliam Hall in honor of Dr. Roger Pulliam Saturday, April 2, 2022.

Pulliam touched many people’s lives, and  especially for people of color. The memorial and renaming of Starin Hall brought many of his former students and colleagues together to embrace who he was as a teacher, mentor and inspiration. 

“He’s had just such a great impact on so many students,” Complex Director of the newly named Pulliam Hall Sabina Montijo said. “I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to communicate with Dr. Pulliam myself, but I know he’s had an impact on students I’ve worked with directly. So students that I’ve supervised as resident assistants, folks that when I was a student here, he had an impact on. Indirectly, I think he’s had a huge impact on people, and I don’t think a lot of people even know that.” 

Starin Hall originally opened in 2010. It is located in the central part of campus and holds suite-style units with a 446-bed capacity. The UW System Board of Regents approved the naming resolution at its meeting Thursday, July 8, 2021. The request had previously been approved by Whitewater’s Academic Staff Assembly, Faculty Senate, University Staff Council and Whitewater Student Government.