October 19, 2020

Sweet dreams: Bliss Hall dormitory?

In a past life Bliss Hall was a male dormitory. (AP Photo)

Today, Bliss Hall houses the English, journalism/professional writing, languages, religious studies, philosophy and women’s and gender studies departments.

Filled with classrooms, offices, basement computer labs and bookshelves, it’s hard to imagine this building actually being considered a home.

Although it has changed significantly since, Bliss Hall was originally a male dormitory.

The late William Hausdoerffer, professor emeritus of mathematics, was designated as dean of men and lived in an apartment, in what now is the English department’s office.

Several former students and professors recall Hausdoerffer creating his apartment and

residing with wife Rosemary,

and late son William ‘Billy’


If you’ve ever wandered around in the backrooms of the English department’s office to see the book collections, there is one room that has a fireplace.

Personally, I always questioned its purpose, but through conversation with Pete Manetas, associate vice president of Development and Alumni Affairs, I learned that the fireplace was a part of the Hausdoerffer’s home.

This also explains why the English office area appears so spacious.

As dean of men, Hausdoerffer was in charge of overseeing the male student population.

Len Tharney, professor emeritus and alumnus, said, “(Hausdoerffer) selected me to become the assistant dean of men, in a building right next to Bliss Hall that used to be called ‘New House.’”

While Centennial Hall is still structured with gender separate floors, it can be hard to imagine female and male students residing in entirely different buildings.

Sure, students sometimes take a snooze in class — although this is not advisable — but it’s interesting to think that about 50 years ago, those at the College actually did sleep and dorm in those very classrooms.

Any campus legends you’ve always want to explore? Just send an e-mail, and maybe you can become the column’s next detective!

Jamie Primeau can be reached at primeau2@tcnj.edu.

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