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Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Judge Damon J. Keith Scholars Hall

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – A groundbreaking ceremony took place Friday, Sept. 20, to mark the start of construction of the first new residence hall to be built on the campus of West Virginia State University (WVSU) since 1969.

The new Judge Damon J. Keith Scholars Hall will feature suite-style living with two-, three- and four-bedroom suites, in addition to a café and gaming room on the building’s first floor. It is expected to be open for students coming to campus for the fall 2014 semester.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place near the Student Plaza where the residence hall is being constructed and featured comments from WVSU President Brian O. Hemphill, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper, state and institutional leaders, WVSU students and Judge Damon J. Keith.

Ambling University Development Group is the developer of the 291-bed, four-story residence hall. Earlier this year, the Kanawha County Commission approved the issuance of up to $30 million in bonds to fund construction.

The new residence hall is named in honor of distinguished WVSU alumni, Damon J. Keith, who has served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit since 1977.

A native of Detroit, Mich., Keith is a 1943 graduate of West Virginia State as well as a graduate of the Howard University Law School and the Wayne State University Law School.

As a member of the federal judiciary, Judge Keith has earned a reputation as a defender of the constitutional and civil rights of all people. In U.S. v. Sinclair, commonly referred to as “the Keith Decision,” the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Judge Keith's landmark ruling prohibiting President Richard Nixon and the federal government from engaging in warrantless wiretapping in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

“Judge Keith represents the rich history and proud legacy of West Virginia State University,” said President Hemphill. “He is an example of a past student who made a significant impact on the world, while retaining a deep connection to the institution he loves so dear. This residence hall, bearing Judge Keith’s name, will stand as a tribute to and reminder of his strength, courage and loyalty.”

Judge Keith is the recipient of numerous awards, most notably, the NAACP's highest award, the Spingarn Medal, whose past recipients include the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Justice Thurgood Marshall, Mrs. Rosa Parks and General Colin Powell. Other prominent honors bestowed upon Judge Keith include the American Bar Association's Thurgood Marshall Award, the Distinguished Public Service Award from the National Anti-Defamation League and the Detroit Urban League's Distinguished Warrior Award.
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