Nov. 25, 2020
Biola University dedicated the newest residence hall, named after Biola’s first administrative dean, William E. Blackstone, on Oct. 6, 2015 in the dorm’s courtyard. The dedication date was especially significant as it was Blackstone’s birthday — he would have been 174 years old. The hall was named after Blackstone to honor him and his significant contributions to Biola.
“He was Biola’s first administrative dean, sold millions of books, led evangelism efforts around the world and was named the ‘father of Zionism’ by a Supreme Court justice,” said Paul Rood, Biola historian and professor of history. “Blackstone deserves to be remembered.”
Blackstone was instrumental during Biola’s developmental years, and he also acted as a spokesman for Jewish rights. In 1902, Blackstone was a successful businessman in Chicago, Ill. He received a call to teach college students at The Bible Institute of Los Angeles and took the opportunity to minister to young lives. He served as founding trustee, officer and administrative dean until 1910. He would often end his letters saying, “I am but an errand boy for Jesus.”
In addition, Blackstone became a pioneer advocate for the Jewish community in Los Angeles and in the nation. He was the leader in pushing legal petitions to help with the humanitarian efforts towards Jewish people. His concern for the Jewish community was so great that in 1890 he held a “Conference of Christians and Jews on the Past, Present and Future of Israel,” attended by many of America’s most prominent Christian and Jewish religious leaders. The following year he issued “A Proclamation for a Homeland for Persecuted Russian Jews in Palestine,” which was signed by more than 400 of America’s leading politicians and religious leaders and presented to U.S. President Benjamin Harrison and other heads of state. Blackstone advocated a brand of Zionism that would carefully work to foster cooperation between Jews and Arabs to benefit all of the inhabitants of the region.
The dedication ceremony honored Blackstone’s legacy. Approximately 20 of Blackstone’s family members were present to participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the building. The dedication was open to the public.
After a year of construction on Blackstone Hall, students filled the 320 open spots in the residence hall for the first time in August 2015. There are 132 economy double rooms that are spread out onto four floors. Each floor has common areas equipped with flat screen TVs and Apple TV. Perhaps, the most exciting amenity for the residents of Blackstone Hall is the in-building dining facility, Blackstone Cafe, a first on the university campus.
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