LAWRENCE — University of Kansas’ newest science teaching and research building will be named in honor of former chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.


Gray-Little served as the university’s top administrator during construction of the Integrated Science Building, which opened in 2018. It will become Gray-Little Hall on April 30 to continue a tradition of naming campus structures for former chancellors of the university.


Gray-Little said the 280,000-square-foot facility, developed as part of a massive building project on KU’s main campus in Lawrence, would remain a crucial university asset.


“For our students, the building has provided new ways to interact with instructors and engage in a modern curriculum,” she said. “For our researchers, the building has enabled them to do the kind of research that improves lives, grows the economy and advances knowledge.”


Gray-Little, 74, was the first African American and woman to serve as chancellor of the university. She was hired in 2009 and retired in 2017.


Under her leadership, KU completed 50 capital improvement projects totaling $700 million and secured funding for development of a special district that includes the science building. KU attracted criticism from some members of the Kansas Legislature for relying on bonding to initiate the $350 million plan featuring the science building, student housing, satellite student union and a parking garage.


KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said his predecessor elevated the university’s stature and transformed the way KU served the state.


The science building serving fields of chemistry, physics, medicinal chemistry and molecular bioscience is part of that legacy, he said.


“In addition to this and her many other accomplishments related to education, service and research, chancellor Gray-Little led with a special dignity and grace that made her a role model for Jayhawks everywhere,” Girod said.


The last time KU named a building for a former chancellor was in 2015 when the Art and Design Building was dedicated in honor of Laurence Chalmers, who served as chancellor from 1969 to 1972. He passed away in 2009.