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July 13, 2017

Residence Hall Renamed to Honor K. Leroy Irvis

A nine-floor residence hall that houses more than 400 Pitt students has a new name – one that honors the legacy of a Pitt alumnus, emeritus trustee and legislative leader.

K. Leroy Irvis

K. Leroy Irvis was a member of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives from 1959 to 1988 and was elected speaker four times, beginning in 1977.

The University’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution to rename Pennsylvania Hall the K. Leroy Irvis Hall at their annual full board meeting on June 30. The move posthumously honors the legacy of K. Leroy Irvis and pays tribute to the legendary contributions he made throughout his lifetime to the not just the University community but to the city of Pittsburgh, higher education and civil rights. Irvis earned his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1954. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 89.

“K. Leroy Irvis’ role in establishing the University of Pittsburgh as a state-related institution helped fuel our transformation into a global leader in education and research and effectively threw open the doors of higher education for generations of students — and generations to come,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “We are committed to ensuring that the significance of his work — and his great influence on our University community — never fades.”

Cathryn Irvis, the widow of K. Leroy Irvis, said, “It pleases me and my family that the University of Pittsburgh has chosen to honor my husband in this way. One of his main priorities throughout his career was education. He always said that education was the ‘bridge to success’ and he worked tirelessly for young people to attain quality educations.”

Irvis was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1959 to 1988. He most notably served as the Speaker of the House, the first African-American presiding officer of a statewide legislative body since the Reconstruction era. He also was the first African-American clerk of Pittsburgh’s Court of Common Pleas.

This was the latest notable commemoration of Irvis’ legacy at the University. In 2008, Pitt named its annual Black History Month observance the K. Leroy Irvis Black History Month Program. The University of Pittsburgh School of Law honored him with its Distinguished Alumni Award in 2004. The K. Leroy Irvis Reading Room, which houses his personal archives, was established in the Hillman Library in 2001. Irvis was among the inaugural class of the Pitt’s Legacy Laureates — which recognizes preeminent alumni for extraordinary achievements and is considered one of Pitt’s highest honors — in 2000.

Located adjacent to the John M. and Gertrude E. Petersen Events Center, the facility now named K. Leroy Irvis Hall houses the Living Learning Communities of the Health Sciences  and the University Honors College.


Anthony M. Moore,, 412-624-8252

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