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The Scholars Walk, from Union Street to the McNamara Alumni Center, opened Nov. 12.
Scholars Walk opens
Installations will begin next spring
By Gayla Marty
From Brief, November 24, 2004
The oak trees are young and bare, the landscaping unfinished, the tributes to scholarship and research not yet installed. But the long-awaited Scholars Walk opened to pedestrians on the east bank of the Twin Cities campus on Friday, November 12. Students, staff, and faculty members are clearly enjoying the straight-line stroll between Union Street and the McNamara Alumni Center on Oak Street.
The Scholars Walk is a wide path that will feature monuments celebrating the research, scholarship, and teaching of award-winning faculty members and students on all the University campuses. It will be the first prominent, permanent memorial to those honored.
Honoring scholarship and
These are some of the awards and memberships for which University of Minnesota faculty members will be honored along the Scholars Walk. Proposals continue to be accepted.
-National Academy of Science
-National Academy of Engineering
-Institute of Medicine
-American Academy of Arts and Sciences
-McKnight Distinguished Professors
-McKnight Presidential Chairs
-Morse-Alumni Awards for Undergraduate Teaching
-Graduate and Professional Teaching Awards
-Student winners of Rhodes, Truman, and Marshall awards
Footings for the installations, which will begin to be placed next spring, are visible along the path, flanked by 40 bur oaks. Benches will also be installed, and the walk will become part of the campus Heritage Trail.
An advisory committee, made up mostly of faculty members, formed more than two years ago to help develop an idea born during plans for the University's sesquicentennial celebration in 2001. The Scholars Walk project and the nearby Alumni Wall of Honor were approved by the regents in 2003. The committee is assisting planners of the walk and working with landscape architect Gary Fishbeck of Hammel, Green, and Abrahamson.
"The idea was to honor our most distinguished scholars, so we started with Nobel Prize winners," says committee chair Victor Bloomfield. "We also wanted to recognize historical giants--people who shaped their fields early on, even before some of these awards were around."
The committee focused on awards rather than people. Stations along the walk will consist of monuments that vary in size and scale, with plenty of room to add more names.
"One of the 'aha' moments for me came when Gary asked us, 'How many of these award winners will there be a hundred years from now?'" says Bloomfield.
The architect also challenged the group to identify quotations, figures, equations, and other elements "representative of high scholarship and idealism and philosophy," Bloomfield says. He is particularly pleased that Dominick Argento--a Pulitzer Prize winner as well as a Regents professor--responded to a request and provided some bars of music from one of his compositions to appear on a monument.
"I was surprised to see the Scholars Walk is so straight because no scholar has ever taken a straight line from point A to point B."
The group will keep working as proposals continue to come in and the monuments are finished and installed. The first phase will be done next summer, with a dedication planned in fall 2005.
Scholars Walk advisory
Victor Bloomfield, Graduate School
W. Andrew Collins, Institute for Child Development
H. Ted Davis, Institute of Technology
Gerald Fischer, University Foundation
Tom Fisher, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Shirley Garner, English
Ron Phillips, Regents Professor, Agronomy and Plant Genetics
Paul Quie, Regents Professor, Pediatrics
Bob Holt, political science, participated early in the process.
Though the west end of the walk is now Union Street, across from Ackerman Hall, a clear passage extends to Church Street and Northrop Mall. Additional funding would allow for the walk to extend to Appleby Hall on Pleasant Street.
The Scholars Walk is one of three related projects underway or recently completed.
- Improvement of the plaza between the Scholars Walk and the Alumni Wall of Honor responded to the way people are using it. Crushed granite among the trees has been replaced with turf, mulch, benches, tables, and more trees.
- The Alumni Wall of Honor will stretch more than 200 feet along Oak Street. All 1,038 winners of the University's highest honor for its graduates, the Outstanding Achievement Award, will be listed on the wall, with room for 1,500 more. Footings for the wall are in place; it is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year. The wall's design includes an artistic interpretation of the night sky on the date the University was founded in 1851, for which astronomy professor Leonard Kuhi was consulted.
"I was surprised to see the Scholars Walks is so straight because no scholar has ever taken a straight line from point A to point B," Kuhi joked.
The Scholars Walk section in progress and the Alumni Wall of Honor are projects of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, the University of Minnesota Foundation, and the Minnesota Medical Foundation, which formed the University Gateway Corporation to build the McNamara Alumni Center, completed in 1999. They are funded entirely through private giving, principally that of Carlyle E. Anderson, '32. Anderson was among the founders of the University of Minnesota Foundation and its first president.