What’s in a Name: How Mercer Became Hayden

Written by James Yang and Natasha Goss

When law students moved into the dormitories at 240 Mercer Street this August, their new home had a new name: Hayden Hall. The residence, which was once simply “Mercer”, received a rebranding along with a remodel this summer.

Many returning residents were caught by surprise. One 3L who lived in the residence hall last year recalled: “I didn’t figure it out until they put the residence hall sticker on my ID.” A Hayden Hall front-desk employee also learned of the new name when he saw the signs. He felt it was “just a name change,” and said that the building’s function and culture hadn’t changed.

Indeed, even the name has not changed in some students’ minds. According to second-year student Jordan Chafetz, “all the 2Ls I know still refer to it as Mercer, partly out of stubbornness and partly out of habit.”

New residents also knew the building as Mercer. Throughout the housing application process this spring, NYU referred to the dorm by its former name. In fact, it was not until mid-June that students received housing assignments in Hayden rather than Mercer. At the time, law school administration did not explain the reasons behind the change.

This change arose from the decision to rename a neighboring undergraduate dorm from Hayden to Lipton. The Hayden name was then transferred to Mercer. Lipton Hall was originally named Hayden in recognition of a gift from the Hayden Foundation. Thus NYU’s transfer of the Hayden name was made to show continued recognition and appreciation.

Martin Lipton, a 1955 graduate of NYU Law, is the new Lipton Hall’s namesake. He has long served as a trustee of both the University and the Law School, and is a founding partner of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, a prominent New York law firm. As a law student, Lipton lived at the newly named Lipton Hall, which was then a law school dormitory. Nowadays, Lipton Hall is primarily reserved for first year undergraduate students and is known for its delicious cookies. Lipton Hall’s new name reflects its heritage as a law school building.

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