By Wil Story
Everything in the Student Union Building looked in place as the fall semester began. However, one new gold word glinted in the light: “Brewer.”
This summer, what was formerly known as the Student Dining Hall underwent a name change and is now called Brewer Dining Hall, named after Dr. Maggie Nell Brewer. Brewer began working at Union in 1965 and retired in 1995.
Brewer started her undergraduate work at the University of Tennessee at Martin and transferred to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where she majored in physical education. She received her master’s of education administration from George Peabody College, which is now a part of Vanderbilt University. She later received the honorary doctorate in humane letters at California Graduate School of Theology.
After being honored with the doctorate, Brewer began teaching at Southside High School in Jackson. She taught social studies and physical education for eight years and then became a supervisor of instruction to Madison County Schools for two years. A few years later, Brewer joined the Union staff.
Brewer came to Union as the first full-time dean of women. As dean of women, Brewer encouraged some changes in the rules. One thing Brewer helped change when she came was the differences between the rules for male and female students.
“In the 1960s, there were more restrictions on women than on men,” Brewer said. She helped equalize the rules for both genders and in 1975, equal curfew hours were introduced for men and women.
In 1973, Brewer was elected the dean of students. She held this position until 1981, when she became the vice president of student affairs until her retirement on June 30, 1995.
One major event that occurred in Brewer’s time at Union was the change in the campus’ location.
“One of the most exciting times was moving to the new campus,” Brewer said. “It’s exciting to plan what you want at a new campus. I tried to get a lot of student opinion, especially on the housing situation.”
Not only did Brewer help with the housing, but she also assisted six committees and helped develop a plan for the fraternity and sorority houses.
After retiring, Brewer spent her time taking care of her father and mother. She participates in various mission trips and stays involved with her church, community and the university. Brewer is a part of the Women’s Auxiliary Luncheon at Union. She is also an active follower of the Union Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs basketball teams.
Brewer’s service to Union is evident and the new name for the dining hall is just one way the faculty, students and administration would like to honor her.