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A segment of the Wall of Discovery

A segment of the Wall of Discovery, which features reproductions of original sketches, notes, drawings, letters and other items from more than 90 illustrious faculty and alumni.

U gears up for big weekend of events

Scholars Walk, Wall of Discovery and stadium groundbreaking to be highlighted

By Rick Moore

Sept. 22, 2006

If you have a soft spot in your heart for the University of Minnesota, you'll want to turn your attention to the Twin Cities campus on the weekend of Sept. 29 and 30. That's when the University will be celebrating a number of big events--events years in the making--surrounded by fans and fanfare, pomp and pom-poms.

There'll be a dedication and an unveiling. Then, a groundbreaking. And, finally, a kickoff.

Scholars Walk and Wall of Discovery

On Friday, Sept. 29, the University will dedicate the Scholars Walk, an eye-catching pathway on the East Bank of the Twin Cities campus that honors the research and academic accomplishments of the U's greatest faculty and students.

The 2,200-foot-long Scholars Walk stretches from Walnut Street, adjacent to the McNamara Alumni Center, all the way to Pleasant Street and Appleby Hall. It has emerged as the major east-west walkway on the East Bank, complementing the stately Northrop Mall, which it intersects.

The dedication event takes place from noon to 2 p.m. on the walk between the McNamara Alumni Center and Church Street. Free ice cream treats from Dairy Queen will be handed out while supplies last.

Lined with bur oak trees, shrubs and benches, the Scholars Walk features lighted glass-and-limestone monuments that provide a prominent, permanent memorial to the University's greatest scholars.

Among the national and international award recipients recognized are the University's Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences winners, national academies inductees and Rhodes, Truman and Marshall Scholars.

University award recipients recognized include the Regents Professors, McKnight Distinguished Professors, McKnight Presidential Chairs, Morse-Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teachers, and the Outstanding Graduate and Professional Teachers. A special faculty committee helped to determine the names of those to be included.

U of M Moments

U of M Moments are daily 90-second radio features that highlight University and community experts speaking on timely topics.

>> Hear Larry Laukka discuss the Scholars Walk.

>> Listen to Drew Sternal describe the Wall of Discovery.

>> Hear Margaret Sughrue Carlson announce events related to the stadium groundbreaking.

"In 150 years of existence, some great, great minds have come through this institution," says Larry Laukka, who spearheaded the design and development of the walk. "Yet we have [had] no place on this campus to recognize them."

Landscape architect Gary Fishbeck of Hammel, Green and Abrahamson designed the Scholars Walk, and it was first suggested by University landscape architecture professor Clint Hewitt in 2000 as a way to mark the University's 150th anniversary.

The Scholars Walk and the nearby Alumni Wall of Honor are gifts to the University from the University of Minnesota Foundation, the University of Minnesota Alumni Association and the Minnesota Medical Foundation. This partnership worked to build and now operates the McNamara Alumni Center.

The Wall of Discovery--in the middle of the Scholars Walk--is a 253-foot-long artistic tribute to the process that leads to great discoveries. The wall, which will be unveiled at noon on Sept. 29, is on the north side of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building, where the Scholars Walk has a narrow passage between buildings. Reproductions of original sketches, notes, drawings, letters and other items from more than 90 illustrious faculty and alumni will be represented on the wall, which Drew Sternal of L.A. Ink spent two years researching and creating.

"I'd call it a celebration of the great discoveries and minds that have passed through the University of Minnesota," Sternal says of the wall.

Among the items featured on the wall are Seymour Cray's calculations for the first Cray Supercomputer, a hand-written score of Dominick Argento's Pulitzer Prize-winning From the Diary of Virginia Woolf, a sketch of William Pedersen's Shanghai World Financial Center, and notes from breakthrough medical operations.

The representations are inscribed upon a metaphoric blackboard, along with the names of the creators and brief descriptions. Completing the wall are 20 edge-lit glass panels, which will appear to float in front of the blackboard.

"I'd call it a celebration of the great discoveries and minds that have passed through the University of Minnesota," Sternal says of the wall.

Groundbreaking for new stadium

On Saturday, Sept. 30, the big events focus on University football--past, present and future. The ceremonial groundbreaking for the new on-campus football stadium, set to open in the fall of 2009, will take place at 2 p.m. at the stadium site on the corner of Oak and Fourth Streets S.E. The program will include remarks by President Bob Bruininks, Athletics Director Joel Maturi, head football coach Glen Mason and Back to Campus campaign co-chairs Nancy and John Lindahl, along with appearances by Goldy Gopher and the U of M Spirit Squad.

The groundbreaking will be preceded by another special event designed to symbolize the return of football to campus. Beginning at 12:30 p.m., hundreds of University supporters and celebrities will partake in the Gopher Football Relay and transport a football from the Metrodome, through the U campus, and all the way to the site of the new stadium.

Former Gopher football coach Murray Warmath will kick off the relay, and other official ball carriers will walk the ball a short distance before handing it off to the next carrier. In the final leg of the relay, Bruininks will carry the football to the future site of TCF Bank Stadium--just in time for the groundbreaking--with the Minnesota Marching Band playing the Rouser. The relay will take place rain or shine.

There will be three "watching stations" for the public--on the west end of the Washington Avenue pedestrian bridge (outside of Anderson Hall), Northrop Mall and the Gateway Plaza outside of the McNamara Alumni Center.

"Every Minnesotan, from Albert Lea to International Falls and from Winona to Warroad, is encouraged to join us," says Margaret Sughrue Carlson, CEO of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. "We're asking people to wear maroon and gold and to cheer on the celebrity ball carriers as they make their way to the stadium site."

"An on-campus Gopher football stadium is now becoming a reality, and we want our friends and fans to celebrate with us by bringing Gopher football back to campus--literally," adds Maturi.

Two boys look at the Little Brown Jug through glass ad the Minnesota State Fair
The century-old Little Brown Jug was on display this year at the Minnesota State Fair. (Photo by Ryan Rodgers)

But that's hardly the end of the football festivities. At 7 p.m. the action returns to the Metrodome when the Golden Gophers host the Michigan Wolverines in the annual battle for the Little Brown Jug. The Gophers, you might recall, are currently in possession of the coveted traveling jug, having upset Michigan in Ann Arbor last year 23-20 in a game for the ages. Before last year, Minnesota had only beaten Michigan twice since 1967 (in 1977 and 1986). The Gophers are hoping to keep the Little Brown Jug for a second straight year for the first time since 1963.

Shuttle buses will be available after the relay to transport fans to the Metrodome who are attending the Minnesota-Michigan game.