Students celebrate Renee Granville-Grossman, AB’63, whose recent bequest enhances College residential life.

Raise a glass

In honor of the largest bequest the University has ever received, the South Campus Residence Hall has been renamed Renee Granville-Grossman Residential Commons.

Granville-Grossman, AB’63, died in 2012 and directed $44 million to the University. Her gift, says University president Robert J. Zimmer, “will help ensure that we can provide and enhance the distinctive opportunities of the College for future generations.”

Renee Granville-Grossman Residential Commons, which opened in 2009 at 60th Street and Ellis Avenue, is the University’s largest residence hall, housing more than 800 students. Students study and socialize in lounges, common areas, a reading room, and an expansive interior courtyard, and they eat in the airy Arley D. Cathey Dining Commons.

The facility grew out of a vision for undergraduate housing dating to the 1920s. Then president Ernest Burton proposed a residential quadrangle stretching south of the Midway Plaisance between Woodlawn and Ellis Avenues. At the time most students lived off campus. Plans for the project were drawn up but never realized.

More recently, dean of the College John Boyer, AM’69, PhD’75, revived that vision, leading the effort to build a vibrant, densely integrated campus culture and an enhanced College experience. In 2001 Max Palevsky Residential Commons opened north of the Regenstein Library. In addition to Granville-Grossman, another major residence hall on the north end of campus is slated to open in 2016.

Granville-Grossman’s gift, Boyer says, “is a wonderful expression of the critical importance of residential life to the central mission of the College.”

Granville-Grossman, formerly Rupert, grew up in Chicago’s Kenwood and South Shore neighborhoods. Her mother, Aimee Heineck Rupert, PhB’28, and her mother’s four siblings all attended the College, fulfilling the wish of their father, Aime Heinick, who attended in 1910–11. Renee, who lived at home during college, spoke fluent French and majored in linguistics. A member of the Esoteric Club, she was a finalist for the 1961 Miss University of Chicago pageant.

Granville-Grossman went on to Columbia University’s Teachers College in New York and taught elementary school before becoming a stockbroker. In 1981 she married British real estate developer Leonard Granville-Grossman, an avid art collector, and moved to London. Together they built a collection of primarily 20th-century British art, a passion Granville-Grossman continued after her husband died in 1994.