Filed Under Education

Silas E. Ross Hall

A new modern home for UNR's School of Business in 1957

Silas E. Ross Hall opened in June 1957, kicking off a campus construction boom that included the Max C. Fleischmann College of Agriculture Building, the Sarah Hamilton Fleischmann School of Home Economics, the Jot Travis Student Union Building, and Church Fine Arts. Authorized in 1955 by the Nevada State Legislature, it was the first new permanent university classroom building in over a decade.

Located on the west side of the historic Main Quad, Ross Hall stands out for its modern architecture. It replaced the original Chemistry building, which had stood on the site since 1902. By the mid-1950s, the campus was running low on classroom and administrative space. Offices for the Registrar, the Dean of Student Affairs, and the Dean of Women were all being housed in Quonset huts between Stewart Hall and the Journalism Building.

Ross Hall was intended primarily to provide much-needed offices and classrooms for the School of Business Administration, which was formerly housed on the third floor of Morrill Hall. Designed by David Vhay and M. DeWitt Grow, the building represents a modest expression of Modern Movement architecture with its flat roof and relatively unadorned surfaces. Long ribbons of multi-light metal-framed windows lend a horizontal emphasis to the overall structure of concrete, brick, and steel.

Interestingly, architect David Vhay, who also designed Getchell Library in 1962 (since demolished) was married to the daughter of Gutzon Borglum, the famed designer of the John Mackay Statue in front of the Mackay School of Mines as well as the sculptures of the faces of four presidents on Mount Rushmore. Vhay married Mary Ellis “Mel” Borglum in 1939, just before the couple moved to Reno from Santa Barbara.

The building was named in honor of Silas E. Ross, who graduated from the University of Nevada in 1909. A resolution in the cornerstone of the building names Ross "one of the institution’s most beloved graduates," asserting “That if the University of Nevada is the lengthened shadow of a man, that man is Silas E. Ross." After receiving a degree in Mining Engineering, Ross briefly taught chemistry on campus before founding a mortuary firm in Reno called Ross, Burke, and Knobel, in 1914. He served on the Nevada Board of Regents from 1932 to 1957, and also spent eight years on the Reno City Council.

In the decades since its opening, Ross Hall has housed a variety of programs and offices. No longer a classroom building, it is currently home to various administrative functions including university finances.


The new building in 1957 The newly completed Silas E. Ross Hall as viewed from the southwest. Ross Hall was built in 1957 for the expansion of the College of Business. It was named after long-time regent, athletics coach, and early alumni Silas E. Ross. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1957
Ross Hall in 2020 In 2020, Ross Hall was the home to a range of university programs and administrative offices, including the Office of Undergraduate Research, Accounting Services, the Business and Finance Office, and the Research Integrity Office. Creator: Jack Hursh Date: 2020
Silas E. Ross Hall, 2020 Ross Hall holds a prominent place on the west side of the University Quad. Creator: Jack Hursh Date: 2020
Typing class, ca. 1960 A Business Administration typing classroom in Ross Hall, ca. 1960. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: ca. 1960
Real Estate Law class, ca. 1962 Dr. Kathryn H. Duffy, Associate Professor of Business Administration, teaches a Real Estate Law class in Ross Hall, ca. 1962. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: ca. 1962
Students on the Quad, 1971 Lambda Chi Alpha (LXA) fraternity members hang out together during an event on the Quad in 1971 with Ross Hall in the background. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1971
Silas E. Ross and friends, 1906 Chemistry students Frederick Charles Nimis, Silas Ross, Edwin Howard Coffin, and Winfield Scott Lake sit in front of the Chemistry Building in 1906. The historic Chemistry Building, built in 1902, was located where Ross Hall currently stands today. The Agriculture Extension Service later occupied the building and renamed it the Extension Building. It was demolished in 1957. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: 1906
Silas E. Ross, basketball coach, ca. 1910 This preparatory school basketball team poses for a team photo with coach Silas Ross at the far left, ca. 1910. The University of Nevada High School was a college prep school that existed at the university in the early 1900s. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: ca. 1910
Silas E. Ross, ca. 1972 Ross Hall namesake Silas E. Ross (center) along with William O'Brien (left) and Fred Anderson together place items in a box for the cornerstone at the dedication of the Fred M. Anderson Health Sciences Building, ca. 1972. Source: University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries Date: ca. 1972



Alicia Barber and Jack Hursh, “Silas E. Ross Hall,” Reno Historical, accessed September 30, 2023,