Wittenberg Magazine P.O. Box 720 Springfield, Ohio 45501-0720
Phone: (937) 327-6141 Fax: (937) 327-6112
Hollenbeck Hall: A new frontier for learning
Supporting poets, athletes and scholars; sharing fears, dreams and laughter; witness- ing tears of joy, moments of discovery and passionate kisses, and keeping forever the secrets entrusted to them, Wittenberg’s stone benches provide permanent testament to the passage of youth that defines the campus.
The benches also represent examples of class gifts given to the university upon graduation. Class gifts offer alumni something to identify with upon their return to campus.
They also chronicle the many changes that have taken place on campus throughout the years. Although some may honor individuals or events, others represent major undertakings that required the cooperation of several class years to complete.
All have been offered, though, with one goal: to improve the quality of the educational environment for future generations of students.
“It’s a significant thing, the presentation of gifts,” says F. Kenneth Dickerson, retired director of special projects, “but the paradox is that the gifts are not seen or used by the members of the class.”
However, there are a couple of exceptions, according to Dickerson. For example, Reese Edgar Tulloss, a 1906 class officer, joined his class in voting to earmark funds to furnish the president’s office.
Fourteen years later, Tulloss enjoyed the furniture himself after being named Wittenberg’s seventh president, serving from 1920 until 1949.
Another exception occurred when the Korean War (1951-1953) interrupted the education of those students who were called to serve.
When the veterans returned to complete their degrees, the electric clock and bell system, the flagpole and staff at Recitation Hall, and the Wittenberg monolith at the main campus entrance (all class gifts from those years) had already been installed.
“Class Gifts through the Years,” an article in the March/April 1968 Alumnus by the late W. Emerson Reck, vice president emeritus, contains the most extensive record of class gifts through 1967, but a leisurely walk around campus can reveal even more.
A good place to begin is the Benham-Pence Student Center, home to the tower clock and clock face, both gifts from the classes of ’88 and ’89. P. Gus Geil, vice president of business and finance, says he believes that the inclusion of a clock tower stemmed from discussions with administrators who wanted the Student Center to have a modern appearance.
The use of large black dots instead of numbers or numerals on the clock face also help maintain the look of the post-modern design. Across from the Student Center along Woodlawn Avenue is the William and Lenore Kinnison Presidential Garden.
The garden, though not a class gift, contains a plaque given by the class of ’95, which reads: “Having light we pass it on to others,” the university’s motto since its founding.Discussions still take place today regarding the actual translation of the motto from Greek to English.
Slightly west of the garden and next to Woodlawn Hall sits the Student Park, created with gifts from the classes of ’72-’74. Geil recalls that when the university tore down the house that once stood on the Student Park site, rumors started that the university planned to place tennis courts there instead of a park.
“Actually, we just planned to return it to its natural state,” Geil said. A pathway between boulders along the hillside provides easy access to the park where a dogwood tree still stands in honor of a former student.
The park’s benches also offer a restful moment of contemplation.
Many of the trees are class gifts as are the walkways that extend from the Wittenberg Seal. Around the Seal, stone walls and benches echo memories of graduations past.
Further south, in the main campus entrance, several class gifts await, including the sandstone fountain, which serves as “a symbol of alumni loyalty flowing forever,” according to historical documents.
The fountain, a gift from the Class of 1928, also includes a pineapple shape in its design, a detail that traditionally means “welcome.”
Nearby and to the east, the corner post of one of the stone pillars contains a bronze plaque, given by the Class of 1920 and covered in ivy, which honors those who served in World War I. In part it reads: “They counted not happiness nor property, nor life itself dear, when the call of humanity came.”
Alumnus and loyal member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, Col. William M. Miles, actually discussed the creation of the entire entrance in the July/August 1966 Alumnus.
“I helped to lay out that circle,” Miles says. “Dr. Weaver (E.O., professor of physics), the contractor and I used a tape measure and a chalk line to set the stakes and dimension so that circle could be paved along with Ward St. and Wittenberg Ave. in the summer of 1924. I can remember yet how Dr. Weaver scrutinized the land, then said, ‘This looks like the center’ and drove a stake from which our measurements radiated.”
Outside the entrance along Ward Street, another gift, the Wittenberg monolith, stands. Given by the Class of 1953, the monolith enjoyed a celebration and name change when Wittenberg College became Wittenberg University in 1959.
To the west of the monolith and near Ferncliff Hall sits a set of steps leading to Wittenberg’s new Kissing Bridge. The original bridge was destroyed after an oak tree fell on it in 1997.
A gift from the class of 1997 and a later gift from the Class of 1996 helped the Physical Plant replace the bridge. Kenneth E. Lake, carpenter foreman, and his crew completed the bridge in 1997, allowing the Class of 1997 to be the first to “christen” the bridge at the conclusion of its commencement ceremony.
From the Kissing Bridge to West Campus Drive and then to Carnegie Hall, there stands another class gift, the sundial.
Given by the Class of 1912 in memory of a former professor, along with the walkway leading to it, the original sundial stood as a “perpetual reminder of one rich in mind and soul, who left us far too early in his career.
Generations of students to come, as they go over this walk and pass by the sundial must be impelled to think lovingly of Douglas Hypes.” Unfortunately, thieves absconded with the original sundial, so the university replaced it with another sundial in the 1960s.
Today that sundial stands in memory of another professor, Martin E. Johnson, professor of geography from 1964 to 1976. Further up the hill along West Campus Drive, stone walls and benches in front of Recitation Hall appear.
Both were given by senior classes as were the flagpole and flagstaff in front of Recitation Hall, and the electric clock system. North of Recitation Hall beyond Koch Hall and Zimmerman Hall, another class gift appears in front of Science Hall.
Titled “Interaction,” this 7-foot, stainless steel sculpture, a gift from the Class of 1967, was dedicated six years later on Nov. 20, 1973. Created by Helen Bosart Morgan Wagstaff, a 1923 Wittenberg graduate, the sculpture depicts “the natural forces” on earth.
According to Wagstaff in a 1974 Torch article, the sculpture represents the sun, the moon, and the weather, which in turn become an integral part of the design by being reflected and casting shadows in ever- changing patterns as the hours and seasons pass.
Inside the science building and extending the entire height of the floors of the stairwell sits the Foucault Pendulum, a gift from the Class of 1966.
Suspended on a wire from the ceiling, the pendulum presents a perpetual demonstration of the earth turning on its axis. Brian L. Bowan, coordinator of the biology lab, says that he passes the pendulum at least a dozen times a day and doesn’t notice it, but, he adds, when it does catch his eye, it stops him in his tracks.
“I am always amazed at its beauty. It shares the simplicity and elegance of the greatest discoveries in the world,” he says.
From Science Hall, beyond Wittenberg’s soon-to-be-opened academic facility Hollenbeck Hall, and south along East Campus Drive, a look through the trees presents a picturesque view of the bell hanging in the Myers Hall cupola.
The bell, a collaborative gift from the Classes of ’92-’95 given in celebration of Wittenberg’s 150th anniversary, rang for the first time during the commencement procession for the Class of 1992 and has rung for every class since.
It also rang during the inauguration of Wittenberg’s 12th president, Dr. L. Baird Tipson, in 1995. Although gifts such as the Sesquicentennial Bell are more recent additions to the campus landscape, other gifts hint at the university’s growth and history.
In 1876, for example, the class provided a pulpit for the chapel, which was then located in Myers Hall. Part of the gift also included a Centennial Class inscription on the stone on the west side of the Myers Hall steps to mark the 100th anniversary of the United States.
A year later, the class of 1877 placed a bronze tablet on the west side of the Myers Hall entrance. However, from 1877 until 1901, the tradition of presenting a class gift fluctuated, with some classes giving one and others refraining.
By 1902, though, and with the exception of the Class of 1978, the presentation of a class gift became an unbroken tradition, which continues today.
“Presenting a class gift is an appropriate and generous way for seniors to say ‘thanks’ for their education here, for what I hope is a positive experience that leads to a fulfilling career,” said 1958 alumnus Dick Veler, professor of English and general secretary to the university.
Funding for the various gifts may come from a number of sources. In the early to mid-1900s, for example, many classes raised money for their respective gifts by presenting a class play.
The average cost of a class gift during that time was between $100 and $350, but by 1966, class gifts averaged $2,000. Nancy U. Dominick, director of special projects, says that $3,000 to $4,000 is a more realistic figure in today’s economy.
She also notes that the senior class adviser and class officers generate ideas for class gifts and then present those ideas to the entire class. Sometimes the class approaches the business office with its idea and budget to seek advice and additional funds, but mostly the funding for the gifts come from student fees and possibly some fund-raising efforts, such as T-shirt sales.
In the early ’80s, the university considered having classes set up endowments in an effort to keep alumni involved, but the idea was later abandoned in favor of classes giving more capital improvement-type gifts, such as landscaping and furnishings.
Gifts have also ranged from books and rooms to sculptures and one-of-a kind mementos, such as the Wittenberg Seal. The 1998-99 senior class adviser, Lehan Peters, coordinator for the Wittenberg Office of Advancement, says that the 1998-99 class officers sent out a survey in March concerning the class’ gift.
The results indicated that the class overwhelmingly agreed that it wanted to present a permanent gift for Hollenbeck Hall — a stone bench to support future generations of students and scholars.
Wittenberg Magazine P.O. Box 720 Springfield, Ohio 45501-0720
Phone: (937) 327-6141 Fax: (937) 327-6112