Alumni Garden to be dedicated Oct. 25

Success in life begins by preparing a solid foundation upon which each individual can build and grow. Education, history and knowledge of those who have come before us provide our foundation for future success.SHSU students will now have a visible memorial of the foundation the university provides with the completion of the Alumni Garden, near the fountain on the SHSU campus. A dedication ceremony for the garden will be held Oct. 25 at 2 p.m. as part of homecoming activities.Developers hope to ultimately incorporate the garden and fountain into an Alumni Plaza.”The Alumni Fountain was created as a memorial to university alumni and friends. It is a link to SHSU,” said Ronny Carroll, past president of the Alumni Association and current member of the Alumni Advisory Board. Other advisory board members are Jim Hanscom and George Miles.”Three or four years ago, the developmental committee had the idea to do something on campus so that present students could see the presence of the alumni and provide a memorial for those who had passed here before,” he said.Paving stones were available for purchase by alumni and friends, engraved with the names of graduates and professors or anyone with a special meaning or contribution to the university. The stones were placed beside the fountain for students and visitors alike to enjoy.Kevin Hayes, director of Alumni Relations and a 1989 graduate of SHSU, said it became apparent the location did not properly recognize individuals in a dignified manner.”I was out by the fountain one day and I saw one of the stones covered with debris,” Hayes said. “That is a high traffic area, people walking through, golf carts going over it. If you come back years from now and want to look at your stone, you don’t want to find it covered up and dirty.”From this, the idea of the Alumni Garden evolved to provide a quiet, serene place where everyone can visit and reflect on the history and experiences of SHSU. The Alumni Advisory Board began looking for a site, and President Gaertner ultimately approved the area near the fountain, which was previously a material handling area for the LSC.Engineer Gerald Harris designed plans to create the landmark that students and visitors can recognize. Hayes said the brick wall provides a dignified area for display of the memorial stones, while allowing a very prominent area on campus to honor the university’s history.The final bricks were laid Tuesday. Landscaping of the area will begin in the next few days and installation of about 1,400 paving stones begins Friday.”This has been a long time coming, but the wait was worth it,” said Carroll. “It is going to be more beautiful than we ever envisioned.”Another function of the garden is to protect a Magnolia tree from being damaged or destroyed. The tree can be seen in a 1913 photograph of the son of former SHSU President Dr. Harry Estill, and is believed to be about 90 years old.”Mark Erb, a local forester, has volunteered to stop by the garden about once a month to ensure the health of the tree,” Hayes said.Response from the university community has been overwhelming. “Doug Greening with the Physical Plant, Rodney Conwell in Facilities Planning and Larry Brown with Physical Grounds have really helped this project come together. You wouldn’t believe the cooperative spirit of those individuals,” Hayes said.”With this, we’re hoping to bridge the gap between the Alumni Association and the students. We’re trying to create a more open environment between the two,” Hayes said. “This also helps fulfill Dr. Gaertner’s goal of creating traditions for the university.”The Alumni Association is currently trying to raise about $30,000 to purchase a four-face clock to be placed inside the garden. There are also plans for benches to be added and more engraved stones.Anyone interested in purchasing a stone can contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 294-1841, or stop by the office in ABII. Proceeds from sales go directly to the Alumni Association endowment, which is used to support the operations of the association.

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