Yudof and crew of volunteers contribute to Beautiful U Day

by Robin Huiras

More than campus cleanup, Beautiful U Day celebrated history, community and looking to the future.
Events throughout the day Friday emphasized these points. Beginning with the unveiling and dedication of the first of 30 heritage markers and ending with the grand opening of the Visitor’s Information Center, individuals from all University walks of life participated in more than 15 campus-wide activities.
President Mark Yudof, himself active in most of the activities, said Beautiful U Day is one of his favorite days “because people roll up their sleeves, pitch in and get the campus looking good.”
Yudof catalyzed the idea last year to boost morale and beautify the campus. An initiative pointed at annual continuance, more than 100 student, staff and administrative volunteers joined in the effort.
Whether walking East River Road, painting old sheds, serving a free lunch or labeling unknown chemicals, everyone thought the effort was worth it.
“I’ve been here 41 years and I think it is time to start cleaning up again,” said Carla Hill, a volunteer lunch server and educational psychology employee.
More than 6,000 students and staff took advantage of the free lunch served on the Washington Avenue Bridge and St. Paul Student Center; Hill said some incredulous students asked about the price.
Walking East River Road to collect garbage proved lucrative for one volunteer. Groundskeeper Les Potts found a working, but worn, quartz watch and several coins, including a Canadian dollar.
More than discovering treasure, said Ben Larry, a human resources consultant for Facilities Management and volunteer, is the opportunity to interact with the people that Facilities Management supports: students and staff.
Support being a theme of the day, many students pitched in. Josh Mashkee, a freshman who volunteered to paint the sheds near the Science Classroom Building, said it seemed like it would be fun.
“It’s a big campus — it takes a lot,” Mashkee said. “It’s a good thing to do.”
Doing good things translated into more than clearing trash or painting old buildings. For the East River Road Ramp, it meant a long overdue demolition.
As more than 100 spectators looked on, Yudof took the first swing at the building. As the brightly painted gold and maroon wrecking ball hit the target — a green and white flag of the Michigan State Spartans — the crowd cheered. A symbol of what the Gopher football team will do to the Spartans this Homecoming, said Yudof, the building now stands dented, ready for destruction.
While the demolition of the ramp focused on a vision for the future, the dedication of heritage markers emphasized the past. Each marker displays information on University history. From noteworthy locations to prominent people, the maroon and gold plates are a way for visitors to get a real feel for the University’s history, said Phil McDonald, executive assistant for project development administration.
The 150th birthday of the University campus served as the impetus for the majority of Friday’s activities, said University officials. The sesquicentennial will be celebrated in the year 2001.