Community / October 4, 2021

A Groundbreaking Naming: Pyon-Chen Hall

Vice President for Student Affairs Patty Perillo participates in a ribbon-cutting at the dedication of Pyon-Chen Hall, flanked by Harold Pyon (left) and Andrew Chen, descendants of UMD's newest residence hall's namesakes, Pyon Su and Chunjen Constant Chen. Photo by Mike Morgan.

The University of Maryland honored two trailblazing students on Friday at the dedication of Pyon-Chen Hall, the newest residence hall on campus and the first building to open in the Heritage Community.

The building is named for Pyon Su, the first Korean student to receive a degree from an American institution, in 1891, and Chunjen Constant Chen, who in 1915 became the first Chinese student to enroll at the Maryland Agricultural College.

The two students “forever changed the fabric of our university,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines in recorded remarks.

Members of the Pyon family and Chen family attended the dedication, where they were presented with framed replicas of a mural honoring their ancestors located inside the building, which Vice President for Student Affairs Patty Perillo described as the “crown jewel” of residence halls.

“We are honored for our family name to be ingrained in this university’s history and to be part of something much greater than one man’s journey,” said Harold Pyon, Pyon Su’s great-great-great-nephew.

Since August, 450 students, including members of the University Honors living-learning program, have been living in the six-story, 131,000-square-foot building overlooking La Plata Beach.

Pyon-Chen Hall “provides an environment that perfectly complements community development,” said Alyssa Cobb ’23, head resident assistant. Board game sessions and late-night bonding in each floor’s central lounge have already helped students forge connections, she said, while enclosed private spaces allow for meditation or studying.

The Heritage Community will also include a new dining hall and Johnson-Whittle Hall, a second residence hall, both of which are expected to open next year.

For the families of Chen and Pyon, the naming further strengthens their link to the university. “Last year, Cara Chen, our family's fourth generation of Terps, proudly graduated on the 100th anniversary of my grandfather Chunjen Constant Chen attaining his master's degree at the University of Maryland,” said Andrew Chen, Chunjen Constant Chen’s grandson. Andrew Chen graduated from Maryland Smith in 1985 with a major in marketing. “Our family knows he would have been honored to have his name cemented on campus, and to know that his story has inspired and paved the way for so many students for generations.”

–This article originally appeared in Maryland Today and is republished here with permission.

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