Exhibit - Class Gifts at Michigan State University
Class of 1873 – The "Rock"
"The Rock" has become a traditional landmark of the university. The Class of 1873 donated "The Rock" as the first class gift in the college's history. It was originally located just west of Linton Hall (the library at that time). At first, "The Rock" read "Clas of 1873" but the misspelling was later corrected. Once known as the "engagement rock", couples would sit on the bench attached to "The Rock" in the shadow of Beaumont Tower and mark their new life together. Later, "The Rock" was moved from near Beaumont to its current home on Farm Lane outside of the Auditorium. After it became the site of spray painting and inappropriate depictions, the university decided to move it away from the beauty and trees and out to a place where it stood alone to be used as it is now, as a place of announcements, memorials, and protests. More information on "The Rock" can be found at: http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Exhibit/1-6-1D/the-rock-at-msu/
Class of 1883 – Ornamental Fountain
The beautiful Ornamental Fountain was the class gift of 1883. Originally it was located outside of the Chemistry Building, near the present day Main Library. In 1946, the fountain was moved to the Horticulture gardens. This fountain was not only used for its beauty and background of pictures, but the class rivalries saw it as a site to dunk fellow students.
Class of 1886 – Tree Specimens
A tornado hit the area, presumably damaging many trees, so the Class of 1886 decided that the best thing they could do for the university was to donate specimens of trees blown down by a tornado near the college.
Class of 1890 – Portrait of President Abbot
The third president of the university, Theophilus C. Abbot, was a beloved. He taught of manhood and made a great impression on the students. Today, he may be remembered most for his name across Abbot Hall, where his picture hangs graciously on the wall in the lounge. President Abbot resigned from his presidency in 1885 after twenty-two years. He continued at the college as a professor. Abbot retired in 1889 and passed away three years later. Though not the president when they graduated, the Class of 1890 honored this cherished man and chose to donate a painted portrait of President Abbot as their gift.
Class of 1900 – Stone Drinking Fountain
The stone fountain, often passed without notice, was the class gift of the Class of 1900. The class of 1900 had to raise money in order to replace the original monument, a class stone that was burned and shattered by the junior class. There was a memorial for the stone and the fountain was then erected in its current place. Located between Linton Hall and the MSU Museum, the "Class of 1900" fountain is amongst the trees with the horse trough part of the fountain facing the sidewalk. On the other side was what used to be the drinking fountain, where a cup to the water flow would offer a fresh sip of water. The walking path went along what is now the trees surrounding the fountain, while the main road (where the horses rode) is the current sidewalk seen today. Made of white sandstone, the fountain stands seven feet tall. The fountain proved to be a thoughtful gift on hot summer days, both useful and beautiful. Though it is no longer a functioning fountain, it symbolizes a different time and the profound dedication of the class of 1900 to its alma mater.
Class of 1913 – Memorial Plate
The Class of 1913 lost four classmates during their time at Michigan State. To commemorate and honor those classmates, this class gave the gift of an engraved copper plate. The plate listed the names of the classmates that passed away, but were not forgotten by their peers.
Class of 1937 – The Band Shell
The class gift of 1937 no longer stands, but had a big presence when it was on campus. The Band Shell was home to commencements, pep rallies, band concerts, speakers, and many Michigan State College traditions. The open-air amphitheater cost about $25,000 to build, which included a donation of $2,448 from the class of 1937 towards construction. Across the bottom on the theater read "Class of 1937". Presented to President Shaw by the class president, the Band Shell was dedicated "to the interest of music and its allied arts" (MSC Record, 1938). The Band Shell was torn down in 1960 in order to make room for a building with more classrooms - Bessey Hall. Some wished for the rebuilding of the Band Shell on the south side of the Red Cedar, but instead there is a sign near the sidewalk telling of the rich history and memories created at the university due to the Band Shell's great presence. For more information visit: "Gone but Not Forgotten" http://archives.msu.edu/collections/buildings.php
Class of 1938 – Entrance Sign
The class gift of 1938 can be seen at the Abbot Road Entrance to campus. The limestone marker was created to represent the themes of agriculture, arts, and home economics. The sculpture shows a man, woman, horse, and wheat sheaf. The top of the column reads "Michigan State College", which was still the name of the college at that time. It was the replacement for an old bronze sign. The marker is supposed to stand as a welcoming gesture to students, faculty, and guests. (MSU Record, 1939)
Class of 1939 - Musicians Sculptures
The class gift of 1939 consisted of a pair of sculptures which were placed on the Band Shell. Sculpted by Samuel Cashwan, they depicted groups of musicians playing instruments. One of the sculptures was placed near the Music Building after the Band Shell was demolished.
Class of 1955 – Union Organ
At one time, the Union Lounge was home to the Union Organ. This was the centennial gift from the Class of 1955. Similar to other class gifts, the organ was not unveiled until after the gradation of the Class of 1955.
Class of 1956 – Smoker's Lounge
A smoking lounge is not the first pick we would see today, however, at one time a smoking lounge would have provided a place to meet, network, and even come up with ideas for research. The Class of 1956 donated money to furnish a smoking lounge on the third floor of the Main Library. Though the room has been redone again, the view has always been overlooking the Beal Botanical Gardens. (MSU Libraries)
Class of 1959 – The London Gazette Collection
A unique choice, the Class of 1959 donated over 6,000 issues of The London Gazette to the Michigan State University Library. The London Gazette was considered to be the first newspaper in the world and the University's collection has been put in Special Collections, currently located in the basement of the Main Library.
Class of 1967 – Pedestrian Walkway
Michigan State's campus runs far and wide with pedestrian sidewalks and new bike lanes. However, the Class of 1967 felt the need for a Pedestrian Island for those walkers crossing near West Circle Drive and East Circle Drive's intersection. They placed a plaque under a nearby Yellowwood tree to mark their beautiful island filled with shrubbery.
Class of 1968 – Library Fountains
The two fountains outside the Main Library still stand with flowing water and benches alongside to admire the beauty. On the most north corner of the two fountains is the plaque that tells of the Class of 1968 class gift to the university. Today, these fountains continue as a symbol of MSU.
Class of 1977 – Kiosk
Located at the South end of the Pedestrian Bridge leading from Wells Hall to the Administration Building is the gift from the Class of 1977, a kiosk. A valuable tool for any Spartan or visitor, the kiosk was a smart choice for the growing campus and the exploration of its beauty.
Class of 1978 – Bronze "S"
Not always noticed at first, the bronze Spartan "S" in the ground before the Administration Building was the gift from the Class of 1978. At the main entrance of the building, at the bottom of the stairs, is the large "S" along with the plaque to commemorate the symbolic gift to Michigan State.
Class of 1979 – Benches along The Red Cedar
There are many places to sit and admire the Red Cedar River throughout campus. One special place is the trio of benches by Bessey Hall, on the north side of the River. Other sets are located in the Beal Garden, Alumni Chapel and East of Shaw Hall, all beside the Red Cedar River. Donated by the Class of 1979 as their gift, the stone benches are the perfect place to rest and take in the splendor of campus. The view is of the trees and shrubbery with a background of the Red Cedar. Stop by here to have a peaceful moment where there are not too many passersby.
Class of 1980 – Bust of President Hannah
The Hannah Administration Building is host to more than one class gift. After passing the "S" before the steps (gift from the Class of 1978), the doors open to the class gift of 1980. The bust of former Michigan State University John Hannah was financed by this class to commemorate him as a great MSU leader.
Class of 1981 – Summer Circle Theater
A class gift raised by call-a-thons, the Class of 1981's gift was the Summer Circle Theater. Completed in 1993, they pledged more than $87,000 to the gift. Their call-a-thon continued as a trend for later years.
Class of 1982 – Red Cedar Terrance and Flag Poles
Similar to the class before them, the Class of 1982 took a large amount of pledges through call-a-thons. They raised about $75,000 this way, and put the money towards renovations for the south entrance of the Main Library (Red Cedar Terrance) as well as flag poles in front of the Administration Building. The additions were completed in 1990.
Class of 1983 – Renovation to the Library Fountains
The Class of 1983 chose to donate their gift where students across all majors and disciplines could admire, the Library Fountains. Renovations to the original fountains (Class gift of 1968) were completed in 1993. The plaque to commemorate this class gift can be found on the northeast corner of the fountains.
Class of 1984 – Spartan Square
On the north entrance of the Union Building sits a beautiful patio with tables and benches, right along Grand River Avenue. Spartan Square was completed in 1991. The area is secluded with trees all around, but step inside for a quiet moment to eat or admire the scenery. The Class of 1984 donated this space as their class gift; notice the plaque at its entrance to commemorate this class.
Class of 1985 – Endowed Lectureship
The Class of 1985 wanted to choose a "living" gift to mark their legacy at Michigan State. With a combination of call-a-thons and mail-in donations, the gift collected $85,000 to endowed lectureship. They hoped to bring in great speakers from the public. They also gave some of their funds to the annual plantings fund for maintenance of plants and flowers on campus. Their goal was completed in 1991.
Class of 1986 – Class of 1986 Room
The Class of 1986 found an interesting challenge when trying to raise money for their class gift. As newly instated parking fines at Michigan State University became the topic of conversation, the Class Council was concerned it would discourage the graduating class from donating money to give back to the University. Despite concerns, the class gift was completed in 1991 - a refurnished room in the Breslin Student Events Center was decorated to make it the Class of 1986 Room.
Class of 1987 – Entrance Signs
This class used the "call-at-homes" tactic to reach their goal for donation. Though their gift of new entrance signs for the university was not completed until a decade later, their contribution was still accomplished through the hard work of the Class of 1987. Their goal was to raise money for three signs, and unlike most years, whenever the money was collected to fund even one sign they planned to install one.
Class of 1988 – Red Cedar Dock
Though there is not very much information of the Red Cedar Yacht Club Dock, it was the gift to Michigan State from the Class of 1988. Completed five years later, in 1993, this class gift has some mystery to the origin of its name.
Class of 1989 – Beaumont Tower Bells
Though it is hard to image, for a few years in the late 1980s, the Beaumont Tower had gone silent. Rust had ruined what allowed the Tower to sing out so nicely, and the Class of 1989 put their money towards its restoration. Though the project was not completed until a few years after they left campus, this class pledged $128,000 so that future Spartans would not be without the chimes that pleasantly ring out today.
Class of 1990 – Big Ten Flag Poles
Though Michigan State entered the Big Ten decades before the 1990s, pride for our school and its fellow Big Ten competitors was shown by the Class of 1990. With a pledge of over fifty-thousand dollars, the class gift was a donation of the Big Ten flag poles.
Class of 1991 – The Sundial Plaza
The Class of 1991 found the Sundial Plaza to be the best way to make tribute to Michigan State. With a class pledge of $82,840, this class was a generous one. The gift was completed in 1997.
Class of 1992 – MSU Union Art Collection
A beautiful and tangible gift, the Class of 1992 chose to donate art to the University. The Michigan State University Art Collection was completed in 1993, just a year after their graduation. This class pledged over $50,000 in donation towards the class gift.
Class of 1993 – Cowles House Renovation
Cowles House is the oldest building still on campus. Built back in 1857, only a few walls of the original structure remain, but its importance stands as both the house of past presidents and the location every graduating senior is invited to before they leave. The Class of 1993 voted in their fall semester to have the Cowles House renovated in order to be handicap accessible. Though most class gifts are not actually completed until a few years after graduation, the Class of 1993 ensured that the renovations be completed so that their classmates could all have access to Cowles House as seniors. (The State News)
Class of 1994 – MSU Library Endowment
The Class of 1994 pledged $38,000 to another endowment. This time, the MSU Library Endowment would see the donation. Completed only two years later, this class had a successful gift for its alma mater.
Class of 1995 – Abrams Planetarium Sundial
Outstanding as of 1997, the Class of 1995 put their money towards the Abrams Planetarium Sundial. With a pledge amount of $44,313 it took only two years to reach an impressive thirty percent of their goal for the donation back to the university.
Class of 1996 – Benches and Pencil Sharpeners
It is the little things that make all the difference. Benches and pencil sharpeners around campus was the choice for the Class of 1996. This gift would make a small impact many times over as both useful and memorable. These tangible gifts allow alumni to return and remember their years at MSU.
Class of 1997 – Senior Class Donor Wall
The Class of 1997 chose an interesting way to make their contribution (and the contributions of future classes) remembered forever. The Senior Class Donor Wall, unveiled in the Union, honored each class and their gift to the university. The purpose was to provide a place where alumni and students could visualize all the class gifts over the years. (Annual Report)
Class of 2001-2003 – Various Donations, University of Michigan Challenge
From 2000 to 2003, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan challenged one another to see which school could produce the best class contribution for the graduating seniors. As their class gifts, seniors would simply choose where they wanted to donate within the university (scholarship, a specific college, the university as a whole). The MSU Federal Credit Union and Michigan Credit Union would donate $1,000 to the winning school.
Class of 2004 –Various Donations
The Class of 2004 saw the continuation of student choice when it came to senior class gift. The class chose to put their money wherever they felt necessary, and so each senior that decided to donate would dictate how much and where their funds would go.
Class of 2006 – Various Donations
The Class of 2006 followed previous class footsteps as, they too, donated to the area of their choice. Money went many places including new technology, study abroad opportunities, lectureships, and of course, to a specific college of their choice.
Class of 2012 – Sparty Mascot Program
Nationally recognized MSU mascot "Sparty" has an escort, countless events, and funds to support him through the Sparty Mascot Program. The class of 2012 pledged more than $34,248 to donate to this program, which is run through the Student Alumni Foundation.
Class of 2013 – Support Our Spartans Student Emergency Needs Fund
The Class of 2013 wanted something more than a landmark, so instead chose to raise money for Support Our Spartans Student Emergency Needs Fund. They did a few different fun-raising events, including a 5K and dodgeball tournament. They also performed a flash mob before a football game to raise money for their gift (videos can be found online).
Class of 2014 – Career Services Internship Opportunity Fund
The new trend of class gifts continued for this past year's graduating Class of 2014. This class chose to donate to the Career Services Internship Opportunity Fund. This scholarship is intended for students that want to gain experience through an unpaid internship and may otherwise have to pass on the opportunity due to lack of funds. The Class of 2014 wanted to allow students to engage in work that would help them be successful in their chosen futures. This class gift choice was about the future and not necessarily the past. The Senior Class Council presented a check of $24,951 to Career Services Internship Fund at graduation.
MSU Annual Report
The State News
The Lansing State Journal
MSU Main Library
Spartan Stadium Sideline
The Spirit of Michigan State, J. Bruce McCristal.
Exhibit written by Laura Williams, October 2014Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections
MSU Archives and Historical Collections