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Larry Laukka.

Larry Laukka led the charge to build the McNamara Alumni Center and the Gateway Plaza. Next up: The Scholars Walk, which will pass through campus and honor great achievements.

Giant step for Scholars Walk

by Chris Coughlan-Smith

From M, winter 2004

The Scholars Walk, a "sacred space" to honor great alumni and the intellectual heart of the University of Minnesota, was approved by the Board of Regents in September and could be completed by next fall. The walkway, extending 2,200 feet from the McNamara Alumni Center west beyond Northrop Mall to Appleby Hall, will be built and maintained with private funds. Larry Laukka (B.A. '58) is volunteering to oversee the project. As head of the nonprofit Gateway Corporation--composed of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, the University of Minnesota Foundation, and the Minnesota Medical Foundation--he has already volunteered thousands of hours to help build the McNamara Alumni Center and Gateway Plaza. "The Scholars Walk is destined to be sacred space," Laukka says. "The greatness of the University is embodied in the quality of its faculty, students, and alumni. We will now have a tangible way to capture that." The east end of the walk, next to the alumni center, will include limestone monuments honoring the 15 University alumni and faculty who have earned Nobel prizes. Other monuments along the walk will honor national academy members, Rhodes Scholars, honorary degree holders, Distinguished Teaching Award recipients, and other categories selected by a faculty committee. On either side, for much of its length, the walkway will have trees, shrubs, granite pavers, benches, and monuments. The monuments will feature names etched in glass, lighted at night. The local firm Hamel, Green, and Abrahamson, Inc., completed the design for the walk. Regents chair David Metzen (B.S. '64, Ed.D. '73) was enthusiastic about the Scholars Walk. "I just love the message this sends; this is what we're all about," he says. "I just wish it were starting tomorrow." For more information on the Scholars Walk, visit

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