Born in Denver, Colorado, in 1874, Margaret Hanley (née Murphy) spent forty-one years as the head of dining hall operations on campus, working under seven different administrations. Hanley started her career in Bury Hall and over the years fed and supervised a growing network of students as multiple generations from the same families came through her kitchen and dining hall.
Though married with three children of her own, students and faculty alike affectionately referred to her as "Mother." Remembered as being firm yet kind and generous, she even packed special picnics when students ventured off campus. She also kept the U.S. Navy officers in V-12 Navy College Training Program well fed while they were stationed on campus in the early 1940s.
In 1936, students voted Mother Hanley homecoming queen, even though she never attended the school. They also twice voted her homecoming dedicatee, and every Mother's Day celebrated her nurturing role in the campus community. Mother Hanley retired in 1953 at the age of seventy-nine. When she passed away only two years later, thousands mourned the loss.