SPC to Rename Building in Honor of Dr. Clarence W. Norris Sr.

March 19, 2020

Alexa Saavedra, Strategic Communications Coordinator

The Alamo Colleges District Board voted Tuesday to grant President Emeritus status posthumously to Dr. Clarence W. Norris Sr. with recognition and appreciation for 30 years of dedicated service at St. Philip’s College.

Artemisia Bowden, who served as President of St. Philip’s College from 1902 to 1952, selected Norris as Assistant Dean and Instructor of education, sociology and Spanish in 1943. During her time at the helm, Bowden had to overcome many obstacles due to the effects of The Depression. As a result, the college ceased to function as a private institution and was transferred to the San Antonio Independent School 

District and later to the San Antonio Union Junior College, today known as Alamo Colleges District. The transition led to Ms. Bowden’s title change from President to Dean.

Norris went on to serve as Dean of Faculty (1946-1954) and took over as Dean of the College when Ms. Bowden retired in 1954. He served as Dean until 1969, after stepping down, Dr. Norris returned to the classroom to teach Sociology from 1969 to 1974. This decision was a reflection of the times – African Americans were not given a high level of respect and recognition as leaders in the segregated South.

“The awarding of president emeritus status is a reflection of the Alamo Colleges District Chancellor and Board of Trustee’s efforts to correct a historical injustice and recognize the true leadership role and contributions of Dr. Norris. I am honored to serve as president with such a respectful and thoughtful Board of Trustees,” said SPC President Dr. Adena Williams Loston.

During a period in San Antonio’s segregated history, SPC’s founding president Saint Artemisia Bowden was stripped of her title and relegated to the title of “dean.” This continued through her retirement and the appointment of Dr. Norris as her predecessor. In 2015, the Board restored her title, bestowing President Emeritus status in perpetuity. The same year, Bowden was named a holy woman by the Episcopal Church.

Dr. Norris was named Dean Emeritus upon his retirement in 1975 and a building was named in his honor. The Board also voted to rename the Norris Technical Building to the Clarence W. Norris Building. The building was built in 1970 and originally completed with three floors, a fourth-floor was added in 1972.

For decades, the building has not reflected its name in hosting technical programs, rather, has housed the Reading and English departments, Instructional Technology (IT) and Information, Communication Technology department, Learning Lab, Reading Lab, Tutoring and Technology Center (TNT) and the Rose R. Thomas Writing Center.

“The facility extends Dr. Norris' vision for learning, reading and writing by being the home of the Communications & Learning Department. Students enhance and embrace the power of the written and spoken word to develop critical writing, speaking, and language skills necessary to be successful in the 21st century,” said Dr. Diane Gavin Chair of Communications & Learning Department.

In 2017, the building was earmarked for an extensive renovation as part of the District’s $450 million bond program approved by Bexar County voters. In January 2020, the college hosted a “Topping Out” ceremony to celebrate the raising of the last beam on the project. Completion is expected in time for Fall 2020 semester. The revitalized building will continue to dedicate its space to providing students with state-of-the-art labs and flexible learning areas including informal collaborative spaces, interactive displays and innovative learning tools.

A ceremony to celebrate the renaming of the Norris Building will occur upon completion of project.

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