Hawley Hall was opened in September 1909 as the Auditorium, one of three buildings (with the Science and Administration Buildings) on the original Western Avenue (Downtown) Campus. The exteriors of the three original buildings were designed by Albert Randolph Ross, architect, and the interior by State Architect George Lewis Heins. The three original buildings cost a total of $366,000. On December 12, 1927 the Auditorium was named Hawley Hall. The building served as an auditorium and gymnasium until February 1933 when the first floor was opened as the College library. The basement became the College Commons, a gathering place for students until early 1951 when it was converted into additional library space. Abandoned as a library after the move to the Uptown Campus in 1966, Hawley Hall was used as a television studio until it was rededicated as a library in 1979. It became the library for Rockefeller College and the School of Library Science in 1981 under the name Graduate Library for Public Affairs and Policy (GLPP). In 1988, the GLPP was renamed the Governor Thomas E. Dewey Graduate Library for Public Affairs and Policy, the name the library retains to this day.
Gideon Hawley (1785-1870), is widely known as the creator of the common or public elementary schools in New York. He served as the first superintendent of the common schools in New York (1812-1821). As a member of the Regents (1842-70), Hawley is credited with helping to establish the New York State Normal School. Hawley served as a member of the State Normal School’s first Executive Committee (1844-1852) which helped to win permanent state funding for the new school.