Every graduating class wants to leave their mark on campus, and some classes found a uniquely memorable ways to do so. Starting with a lilac bush in 1894, most classes left something to make the campus better. In our humble opinion, these are the seven most memorable class gifts from Union’s 125-year history.
(Note: In some cases, several classes gave a similar gift or an updated gift, so we grouped those together.)
7. Mission giving—classes of 1933, 1951 and 1962
Throughout Union’s history, an emphasis on missions played a significant role in the life of the school—so much so that three classes chose to give money directly to mission projects, including one to establish a medical station in Egypt and another for a project at Antillian Adventist University in Puerto Rico.
6. Union College missionary roster display—classes of 1920 of 2013
The original gift from the class of 1920 funded the development of a display to commemorate the overseas missionaries who attended Union. A new display was built on the first floor lobby of the Everett Dick Administration Building after construction, but in intervening years, the wall outside the Campus Ministries office filled with names.
The class of 2013 gave funds to purchase software to power a new electronic mission display mounted next to the elevator in the Everett Dick Administration Building Lobby. The large touch screen allows visitors to search for missionaries by name, class year or location.
5. Forty-niners Athletic Field—class of 1949
The class of 1949 prepared an athletic field in a space west of and running parallel to 51st Street and dubbed it the Forty-niners Field as a class gift. Over time, the space became more valuable for other uses and the athletic fields were relocated in 1967 to an area north of Calvert Street between 53rd and 56th Streets. The class of ’49 rededicated the new Forty-niners Field in 1989 with a new flagpole, and it now houses softball, football and soccer fields.
4. Sidewalk entrance arches—classes of 1929 and 1935
After the class of 1929 gave funds to construct two brick arches over sidewalks entering campus from 48th Street, the class of 1935 funded an additional arch over the sidewalk on Prescott Street facing the College View church. In 2007, the Prescott Street arch was destroyed in an accident, but has been rebuilt with the original keystone honoring the class of 1935.
3.The Rock Pile—class of 1898
In the 1880s and ‘90s, college students around the country began leaving a large stone on campus as memorial to their class—and Union was no different. In 1898, the seniors decided to outdo all the others by creating a pile of rocks, one stone for each student in the class. They discovered the perfect centerpiece for the pile, and after considerable effort, moved the 3,670 pound boulder, affectionately named “Mammoth” to campus.
Fifty years later the class rebuilt the somewhat scattered pile into a cement foundation forming the familiar shape we know today.
2. The Golden Cords display—class of 1906
In a search for a meaningful class gift, the class of 1906 settled on a device that would commemorate alumni who served overseas as missionaries. The large map mounted in the chapel featured yellow strings connecting Union to countries served by alumni, and ultimately became a symbol for “the college of the golden cords.”
The display has been updated and redesigned several times over the years—most recently in 1989 by Victor Issa ’80. The large bronze and ivory sculpture mounted in a wooden frame hangs in the Everett Dick Administration Building Lobby opposite the electronic mission display, and is moved to the church for the annual golden cords ceremony.
1. Clock works for the clock tower—class of 1922
The clock faces on the original tower in the College Building had no hands—they merely acted as masks to cover an empty tower. The class of 1922 made it their mission to raise money to install clock works in the tower. Each class member pledged $10, and they launched a community campaign at the end of their senior year to raise the rest.
When the original College Building was torn down, the class of 1922 spearheaded another fund raising campaign to build the current 100-foot steel clock tower—dedicated on their 50th anniversary during Homecoming Weekend in April 1972.
By Ryan Teller ’98 and Linda Skinner ’71