Taylor University's 1968 alumni got down on their hands and knees to lay bricks in the Rice Bell Tower patio with Taylor's grounds crew beginning the second week of June 2018.
The new patio space surrounding the bell tower was funded and partially constructed by the class of 1968.
"I feel like there was almost a barrier before, and now it feels very welcoming," Tutor Coordinator and Adjunct Instructor Darci Nurkkala said.
The patio was remodeled due to caving in the previous brick work to create a larger space around the bell tower and new landscaping.
The project to improve the sidewalk paving surrounding the Rice Bell Tower began Homecoming 2017 and will be completed by Homecoming 2018. Once finished, the patio will have increased in size from 1,000 square feet to 5,000 square feet.
The octagonal design of the patio represents the seven anchor points of Taylor University including:
- Biblically Anchored
- Christ Centered
- Faith Learning Integrated
- Liberal Arts Grounded
- World Engaging
- Whole Person Focused
- Servant Leader Motivated
The improved space will become part of Taylor University's community life as benches and plaques are added to the octagonal area by Homecoming 2018.
Initially, Superintendent of Grounds Kerry Shanebrook drew up plans for the project. He presented them to the class of 1968 in October 2017. He has played a crucial role in facilitating the improvements on the bell tower patio. Additionally, alumni from the class of 1968 funded the project as a class gift for their upcoming 50-year reunion in October 2018.
"They really wanted to be involved in it so they came up and helped us lay bricks . . . they laid three different sections," Shanebrook said.
Around eight to 10 members from the class of 1968 came to Upland during the summer months of 2018 to help with the project.
The names of each member of the class of 1968 are inscribed on the bottom of the bell tower patio bricks. Passerby cannot see the alumni names, yet an alumni can locate his or her individual brick by locating their corresponding brick number. In total, around 13,950 bricks comprise the new bell tower patio in addition to concrete borders.
"It is pretty substantial, functional, beautiful," Wes Rediger said.
Rediger, along with President Emeritus and Chairman of Christianity Today Eugene Habecker and Cheryl Helle Jones are 1968 graduates of Taylor. They played a part in the laying of bricks and the planning of the bell tower patio.
The bell tower patio project was funded by the class of 1968 to invest in the future of Taylor University and the students, faculty and community members who call Upland their home.
"We are thrilled that it came our year . . . when we had the chance to do it," Rediger said.
The new patio provides a place for students to pass, interact and conduct programing.
The space will be dedicated on Thursday night during Homecoming and Family Weekend 2018.
"It feels more like a space instead of a transit place," Nurkkala said.