OU breaks ground on new Social Work building
Jeremy Dickie, The Oklahoma Daily
After more than 80 years of being housed in an old fraternity house, the School of Social Work broke ground on its new home.
OU broke ground Monday on Anne and Henry Zarrow Hall. The new building will stand at the location of the recently demolished Jim Thorpe Multicultural Center formerly located on the corner of Elm Avenue and Brooks Street.
“I’ve been the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for 14 years, and we’ve been talking about this day for 14 years,” said Paul Bell, OU College of Arts and Sciences dean.
The feeling that the time has come for a new building for the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work was repeated throughout the ground-breaking ceremony. The School of Social Work will move from its current location in Rhyne Hall, the original Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house, to Zarrow Hall, a brand new building on the west side of campus.
“When I took my sister to see the OU campus, I showed her Rhyne Hall,” Leah Gatlin, social work graduate student, said. “She asked me if it was a frat house, and I remember telling her ‘No, that’s where I go to school.’”
Henry Zarrow, the donor whom the School of Social Work and its new building is named after, addressed the crowd with a short remark.
“I hope you have a lot of success in this new building,” Zarrow said.
Zarrow, 94, travelled Monday morning from Tulsa to be at the ground-breaking ceremony.
OU President David Boren said the new building shows OU is preparing a new generation of social workers to handle changes the 21st century will bring to Oklahoma families.
“By building Zarrow Hall, we are showing the state of Oklahoma that we are preparing a new generation of leaders in the field of social work,” Boren said. “Because of this new building, optimism in the school is high and our enrollment is up 30 to 40 percent.”
Rhyne Hall was originally built as the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house in 1921 and was acquired by the university to be converted to classrooms for the School of Social Work in 1928. Rhyne Hall will be converted into administrative offices when the School of Social Work is moved into Zarrow Hall.
WHO ARE THE ZARROWS?
“The Zarrows are some of the greatest philanthropists in the state of Oklahoma,” Boren said.
Zarrow studied at OU in the 1930s but dropped out to support his family with a job at a local Norman grocery store, Boren said.
At age 22, he started Sooner Pipe and Iron, which later became Sooner Pipe and Supply, the largest independent pipe and supply business of its kind in the world. He began making charitable donations even before he had fully paid for his first truck for the business, the OU Foundation website stated.
“He started making pledges to charities before he was sure he could afford to feed himself,” Boren said.
Boren said Zarrow and his wife, Anne, had a ritual every morning of reading the newspaper together.
“As they would read the paper every morning, they would take notes on the newspaper and find another person who would need help,” Boren said. “It was not unusual for Anne to see someone who was cold, and then see her rush home and get her best coat out of the closet and give it to the person in need.”
The Zarrows have donated to other OU projects at the OU-Tulsa campus, the OU Health Sciences Center and other Norman campus projects. The Zarrows set up the Zarrow Foundation to give out grants and awards to charities and organizations in need.
Anne passed away more than a year ago, but Henry was able to attend this morning’s ground-breaking ceremony.