Marshburn, Felix, Duke, Segerstrom — We all know their names, but who are they?
Each day, students go in and out of the many buildings on campus to get to their classes. Chapel is held in Felix Event Center, science classes take place in Segerstrom Science Center and students can be found studying in Marshburn Library. But how often do they think of who those buildings are named after and their significance to APU?
Since 1899, APU has been building itself up from the ground — literally. What started as a small Bible college in Whittier has blossomed into a prestigious Christian university with multiple campuses throughout Southern California. APU bounced around the region over the years but finally settled in Azusa in 1946. The original 12-acre plot the school sat on is what students now know as East Campus. The expansion of West Campus came 54 years later under the leadership of President Richard E. Felix.
Many buildings on APU’s main campuses have honorific names for those who provided the funding or those who have made an impact on the school. Without the impression from each of these people, APU would not have the culture that it has now. Here’s some insight on some of the honored names we see everyday:
One of the most popular spots to study on campus is Marshburn Library. This building was named in memory of Dr. William V. Marshburn upon completion in 1964.
According to library records, Marshburn was responsible for leading a campaign to expand the Training School for Christian Workers (now APU) in Huntington Park. He also established Marshburn Farms which gave 30% of its net income back to the local churches and to fund what would become APU.
The Marshburn family has also had a family member on the Board of Trustees throughout much of APU’s history. In 1964, Marshburn’s sons helped build and finance the library on East Campus. When the third story was added in 1980, the Board of Trustees honored the family legacy by naming the library after William V. Marshburn.
The Felix Event Center (FEC) has held countless events throughout the years. After its completion in December of 2000, the building was named in honor of former president Richard Felix and his wife, Vivian.
The honorific naming of the FEC was well-deserved. Felix was responsible for the construction of West Campus, a doubling of student enrollment, reframing the university’s values in its Four Cornerstones and the addition of several graduate and doctoral programs. Felix contributed greatly to the culture at APU that we now experience.
The Segerstrom Science Center was one of the last buildings added to APU’s campus in 2009. Made possible by the Perry-Segerstrom family, the science center is home to the Department of Biology and Chemistry and the Department of Mathematics, Physics and Statistics. It also gives space for labs, classrooms and offices for the School of Nursing and Department of Physical Therapy.
The Segerstrom family has a deep connection with APU that goes back to when Sally Segerstrom and Susie Perry, née Segerstrom, were students at the school. In an interview with the university, they explained their family’s inclination to support APU.
“We gave to Azusa Pacific University because of our rich and rewarding experience as students at APU. We know firsthand that APU’s God First emphasis will continue to have a tremendous impact on students’ lives and their vocations,” said Susie.
“We decided to support the sciences because we know APU’s graduates will make a difference in health care, education and beyond,” said Sally.
Mary A. Hill
Mary A. Hill was the first president of APU in 1900. At the time, it was known as the Training School for Christian Workers, and it was the first Bible college on the West Coast. She created a legacy that has continued for 125 years. Hill also actively participated in education, home missions and evangelism throughout Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois before arriving at APU. She was renowned for her passionate mission work, leaving her mark around the world.
Named in honor of her, the Mary Hill Center and Mary Hill Garden are located on West Campus. This area houses classrooms and offices for students and professors. The Garden also includes a bronze statue of Mary Hill that recognizes the tremendous courage and example of APU’s first president.
Wilden and Duke
Wilden Hall, The Duke Academic Center and Duke Student Commons are all connected to the same family. James and Naomi Wilden gifted financial support for the construction of Wilden Hall. The family owned a very successful pump company, and displays of the pumps can be found in the lobby of Wilden Hall.
James and Naomi’s daughter, Marilyn Wilden Duke, continued her parents financial support of APU. Together, John and Marylin Duke funded the construction of the Duke Academic Center and Duke Student Commons. These buildings were completed in 2003. The revamped Duke Student Commons opened in 2021, which includes new eateries, a remodeled Campus Store, new furniture, spaces for eating and studying and an area for Commuter Life.
The history of APU runs deep. Many people and families have left their mark on APU by impacting the community or financially supporting the school. They have each left a continuing legacy that allows students to know their names and missions for generations to come. Each time you walk past their names, displayed on APU’s edifices, remember the legacy they built, honor it and continue it, so that you too can be a part of APU history.