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Kalamazoo College president Allan Hoben did not believe a Christian College should exist without a chapel as the physical and moral focal point of the campus. He told the Board of Trustees that the College needed a chapel to identify itself to the outside world and the Board agreed.
Dedicated on April 22, 1932, the 99th anniversary of the College's founding, the student newspaper called Stetson Chapel "a birthday present for the college." Since its opening, Stetson Chapel has served as the center of the college community, hosting major convocations, lectures, and concerts as well as campus chapel services. Speakers as diverse as J. Edgar Hoover, Thurgood Marshall, Ralph Abernathy, B.F. Skinner, and Stephen J. Gould have addressed the college community from its podium.
In 1984, as part of its Sesquicentennial celebration, Kalamazoo College installed and dedicated English tower bells in the chapel tower. At that time there were less than twenty locations in the country with a similar set of bells.
Closed during 1986-1987 for major acoustical renovation, the chapel was rededicated in 1987 and called simply "the soul of the campus."
Goodsell, Charles, and Willis Dunbar. Centennial History of Kalamazoo College. Kalamazoo, MI: Kalamazoo College, 1933.