Woman addresses the crowd at the Julia Sears groundbreaking ceremony at Minnesota State University, Mankato, 2006-09-15.
The building is named for Julia A. Sears, who served as Mankato State Normal School principal in 1872 and 1873, making her the first woman to head a public college in the America. The dorm was created as one-half of a residential living space (The Margaret Preska Residence Hall which opened in 2012 was the eventual other half) to replace the Gage Complex, which was constructed from 1964-1965. After research found flaws it's practicality and conditions, the Gage Complex was decommissioned in the Fall of 2012 and demolished the following year. The new dormitories closer to the rest of campus led to the new dining hall being made to serve all of campus, converse to the prior two dining halls. Julia Sears Residential Hall was funded using bonding and according to Larry Kohanek, Director of Planning and Construction, estimated the cost to be around 27.5 million dollars. The grand opening celebration, ribbon-cutting and tours for the new Julia A. Sears Residence Hall was August 6, 2008 and attended by more than 130 students, faculty, staff and friends of the University.