KEARNEY, Neb. — As many college campuses look to distance themselves from Greek life, the University of Nebraska-Kearney is making an investment in fraternities and sororities. 

Bess Furman Armstrong Hall opened at the start of the semester as the new home for UNK’s sororities. At a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, Chancellor Doug Kristensen said it’s the premier Greek housing in the state.

“The technology here, safety, the pluming, the electrical, all the amenities," Kristensen said. "This is really a first-class residence hall that happens to also have Greek chapters in it.”

The building spans 41,000 square feet and is part of a $32.65 million project that includes the remodeled fraternity building nearby. All four sorority chapters have their own private lounge, chapter room and bedrooms. The Multicultural Greek Council chapters also have access to a meeting room.

“I think it also is a sense of pride for the women who are going to live there," Kristensen said. "It’s an investment in them and I think they will give back a lot more because of the investment we made in them.”

Mackenzie Welsh is the president of Alpha Omicron Pi. She says the brand-new building is a big upgrade over the previous Greek housing pods, which needed constant maintenance.

“It’s really nice that we’re officially right next door to all of the fraternities and that we have MGC here with us now," Welsh said. "So we’re all truly super close in space and then we also are super close in collaborating and community as well.”

Thursday’s ceremony had added meaning as the family of the building’s namesake, Bess Furman Armstrong, made the trip from the east coast. Furman Armstrong was a Nebraska State Normal School at Kearney graduate who served as the first woman editor of The Antelope student newspaper. She worked for the Associated Press and The New York Times, covering the White House during five presidential administrations.

Diana Armstrong hopes her mother-in-law can serve as inspiration to the women living in the building bearing her name.

“She was a determined woman," Armstrong said. "She knew what she wanted and she knew how tough it was to get there, but she wasn’t going to let anything stand in her way.”