Prince Bernhard Hall. Does it ring a bell? No? Actually, it should. What we familiarly know and conveniently call today as the Burgos gym or SLU gym was actually formally inaugurated and officially dedicated to Prince Bernhard on June 13, 1971thus the name Prince Bernhard Hall in honor of the former prince of the Netherlands. He was the father of the Netherlands’ present royalty Queen Beatrix.
It was during the term of SLU’s second president Fr. Paul Zwaenepoel from 1964 to 1976 that the Prince Bernhard Hall was completed. The construction of the original gymnasium was made possible through the generosity of the people of the Netherlands.
Specifically built to serve as a multi-purpose venue for various SLU functions and activities, the hall hosted for the past 40 years various events such as intramurals, sports competitions, art festivals, concerts, graduations, masses, general assemblies, conferences, etc. Indeed, this imposing structure has been a silent witness to every Louisian’s personal and professional journey made during his/her academic years in SLU.
It is therefore but fitting that after 40 years, we should give Prince Bernard Hall - now henceforth renamed the Prince Bernhard Gym last November 11 - the royalty it deserves --- modernly renovated and colorfully refurbished to the delight of the contemporary audience.
More importantly, there would not have been a better time to re-inaugurate the edifice than during the centennial birth anniversary of Prince Bernhard that falls this year, and which significantly coincided with SLU’s centennial foundation anniversary.
Prince Bernhard was a highly-decorated commissioned military officer being the supreme commander of the Netherlands Armed Forces during World War II.
He was a patron of culture, science, and sports. He founded the Erasmus PrizeTrust in 1958, an organization that gives monetary awards to individuals and organizations for their outstanding services to culture and society in Europe.
Prince Bernhard was also an active advocate of wildlife conservation. He established the World Wildlife Fund in 1961 which is aimed at conserving plant and animal species throughout the world. In 1971, he also founded theOrder of the Golden Ark, an award given to individuals and organizations for their outstanding services to wildlife conservation.
He was a popular patron of a number of sports organizations including the Netherlands Lawn Tennis Association. He was born on June 29, 1911 and died on December 1, 2004.