Members of this year’s graduating class wanted their gift to the college to create a long-lasting tradition while serving as a physical representation of their time on campus. When the chimes of a new, bronze bell ring following Commencement on May 17, they will know they have succeeded.
“Ringing the bell will represent our message to the world that we are coming and we are ready to accomplish great things,” said senior class President Meagan Barron. The plan is that Mary Baldwin President Pamela Fox will give the bell — which will be located on the front lawn of the Administration Building — its inaugural ring to kick of Commencement Weekend on May 15. Seniors will then be invited to tug the cord for a gratifying “gong” after picking up their diplomas right after the Sunday ceremony.
The 14-inch, 44-pound bell will be produced by Scanmix Corporation in Maine and cast in Sweden, said Brent Douglass, director of facilities management. It will hang inside a brick structure designed by architects from Kahler Slater to reflect Mary Baldwin architecture and the recently constructed college sign at the corner of Coalter and Frederick streets, a gift from the Class of 2014. The inscription, “To these halls where Wisdom reckons,” from A Hymn for Mary Baldwin, circles back to the college theme during the class’s freshman year, Wisdom. A plaque noting the gift and new tradition is also slated to accompany the bell structure.
Douglass has been happy to provide connections and help with the execution of several class gifts during the past few years. He is impressed with students’ initiative to enhance the campus before they depart. The projects overseen by Douglass include an ornate lectern gifted by the Class of 2011 (first used at Commencement 2013), a fire pit near Pannill Student Center from the Class of 2013, and the college sign.
“Each class has been very creative and thoughtful in deciding how to leave its mark at Mary Baldwin,” Douglass said.
“We wanted a gift that would be interactive, meaningful, and live on after our time here,” said Kathryn Laflin, senior class vice president.
The Class of 2015 plans to hold several fundraisers this semester to cover the gift’s $2,000 price tag. The Split Banana downtown hosted a successful event to benefit the group in February, and the next fundraiser will be held 1–5 p.m on March 29 at Tropical Smoothie.
Watch the Mary Baldwin University Facebook page for fundraiser details, progress updates about the bell and photos when it is delivered and installed, and more Commencement 2015 information, and check out all posts related to graduation at #Mary Baldwingrad2015.