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UC Davis Centennial
100 years of service, solutions, impact

Looking Back

Namesakes: Who are behind UC Davis landmarks?

Ever get curious about the people behind the names for campus buildings, athletic facilities and museums? These names have been bestowed on places and things to honor folks who founded and help build the campus into a leading research university in the 21st century. Their stories are legendary — at least within our big Aggie family.

Photo: Vern Hickey

Vern Hickey

Vern Hickey arrived at UC Davis as football and golf coach in 1937, a year before the building that carries his name was built as a “modern concrete gymnasium,” using Works Progress Administration funding….

Photo: George Hart

George Hart

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Hart Hall is one of the few buildings remaining from the early days of the campus. Its namesake was George Hart, first dean of our School of Veterinary Medicine….

Photo: Roy Bainer

Roy Bainer

Few are familiar with the 1961 “tractors for prisoners” story told by Roy Bainer, founding dean of the UC Davis College of Engineering. But the namesake for the big engineering building south of the Silo Complex had quite a tale to tell about meeting Fidel Castro after the Bay of Pigs….

Photo: Gladys Everson

Gladys Everson

Everson Hall, the original home economics building at UC Davis — and one of the few academic buildings with a fire place — is named after a soft-spoken but authoritative and devoted scientist and teacher, Gladys Everson….

Photo: William Cruess

William Cruess

Cruess Hall has held reign for more than a half-century as the place where California food processing history is made. The building’s namesake, William Cruess was a star among the food science technologists of the 20th century….

Photo: Carl N. Gorman

Carl N. Gorman

The C.N. Gorman Museum, a showcase for the creative expressions of Native Americans for more than a quarter century, was created in 1973 by the Native American Studies Program to honor its founding faculty member, Carl N. Gorman.…

Photo: Tracy Storer

Tracy Storer

Storer Hall was constructed in the late ’60s building boom on campus — 1968 — and dedicated to Tracy Storer, our pioneering zoologist who came to campus in 1923. For many years, Storer was our only zoology faculty member, but he left a long-lasting legacy.…

Photo: Gunrock


While it’s true that the original Gunrock that inspired our mascot was, indeed, a Thoroughbred, students have almost always believed that the mascot portraying a horse was a mustang. Nevertheless, Gunrock was a real horse.…

Photo: Emil Mrak

Emil Mrak

UC Davis has a history of chancellors whose surnames take a while to learn. Memorable among these was Emil Mrak (no, not “Mark” but “Mrak”), whose family hailed from the Balkan Peninsula. A beloved chancellor, Mrak was our second chancellor, taking over the campus when.…

Photo: Peter J. Shields.

Peter J. Shields

You might recognize Peter J. Shields’ surname as the one that graces UC Davis’ main library, located on the south side of the Quad. Or you may see the name on street signs for the road that border the north side of the library.…

Photo: Richard ‘Doc’ Bohart

Richard ‘Doc’ Bohart

One would guess that the R.M. Bohart Museum of Entomology, with the seventh largest insect collection in North America, would be named after an entomologist. In fact, Professor Richard Bohart founded the teaching, research and public-service facility in 1946.…

Photo: Irving ‘Crip’ Toomey

Irving ‘Crip’ Toomey

For 57 years, the crowds sat on those cold metal benches and roared when the Aggies scored. The field is named after Coach “Crip” Toomey, hired as the athletic director and football and basketball coach for UC Davis in 1928.…

Photo: Thomas Tavernetti

Thomas Tavernetti

It is hard to miss the bell whenever you are going to a football or lacrosse game at Aggie Stadium. The bell, named after Thomas Tavernetti, 1889–1934, allows Aggies to carry out our tradition of ringing the bell after we win games.…