The building that is now McCartney Hall housed the university's library collection for about forty years. It was built in 1926 and named after General George A. Forsyth, who had been stationed at the Fort Hays Military Reservation. It is a three-story Collegiate Gothic style limestone building and is comprised of 44,335 gross square feet. The building's initial function was to house library stack rooms, offices, a few classrooms, a beautiful two-story reading room on the north side and the Museum of Natural History on first floor.
McCartney Hall was remodeled into an academic building after the library moved to a new location across the street in 1967. An elevator was added to the east side of the building in 1979. Sternberg Museum collections remained on the first floor until 1999 when the newly remodeled Beach Hall/Sternberg Museum opened in northeast Hays.
McCartney Hall was updated again in three phases, one floor at a time, utilizing the skills of the university construction crew. Renovations began on the first floor in 2000 with the third floor being completed in 2004. The building presently houses the College of Business and Leadership and the departments of Economics, Finance and Accounting, Employee Relations, Leadership Studies, and Management and Marketing.
In 1968 the Kansas Board of Regents approved President M. C. Cunningham's recommendation to rename the building McCartney Hall in honor of Dr. Ernest Ray "E.R." McCartney, a long-time dean of the faculty and Professor of Economics and Business.