Current and former residents of the Martha Cook Building —  one of the University’s all-female residence halls — gathered over the weekend to celebrate the residence hall’s 100th year.

The three-day anniversary celebration included a barbecue, organized dinner outings at various Ann Arbor restaurants and a gala dinner featuring remarks from University President Mark Schlissel, the weekend’s keynote speaker. The weekend concluded with a time capsule ceremony where attendees opened a time capsule from 1993 and created a new capsule to open in 2115.  

During his remarks at Saturday evening’s gala, Schlissel said the Martha Cook Building contributes to the culture of the University.

“I believe that every moment at the University represents a precious opportunity to learn,” he said. “The opportunity to learn outside the classroom is especially true of the Martha Cook Building. You have created a unique learning environment where everyone feels equally included. Throughout its impressive history, Martha Cook has been known for bringing together diverse group of women and is a cherished part of the University of Michigan community.”

Constructed in 1915 with funds from University alum William W. Cook, who named the building after his mother, Martha Cook is the only residence hall at the University with its own alumni association. The first women Martha Cook alums started the association in 1918. The dorm’s alumni association assists in awarding scholarships to current residents and organizes fundraising efforts and events like the 100th anniversary.

Sheila Davis, the 100th anniversary general chair who organized the event, said the activities allowed alumni to reconnect and meet the current generation of women living in the building.

Davis said the anniversary serves as an important milestone for the Martha Cook Building and its history of forming lasting bonds and friendships.

“Cookies” past and present bonded over their experiences in the dorm, including University alum Beth Johnston, who said living there helped her form lasting friendships that have continued through her involvement in the alumni association.  

“Everyone from freshman to graduate students living there, you really have a diverse group of women to draw experience from,” she said. “I remember sitting at dinner and having a problem and talking to a grad student who put things in perspective and evoked wisdom. It felt like I had just talked to an older sister who set me straight. You don’t get that at a normal dorm or at an apartment.”

Nursing senior Carrie Ramseyer has lived in the Martha Cook Building since her freshman year and said she is grateful to be celebrating the dorm’s 100th anniversary during her last year on campus.  

“This event means so much to me that I am able to be here my senior year at the 100th anniversary. The fact that so many other Cookies have come to celebrate with us it’s phenomenal,” she said. “I am very excited that Martha Cook has lived strong for 100 years and will continue to do so in the future.”

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