Scholar’s Walk sets faculty contributions in stone, links alumni center to campus

by Sam Kean

Students might forget that names like Kolthoff and Borlaug Hall represent more than just buildings on campus.
A new Scholar’s Walk, though, will help the University community remember the people behind the pillars and facades.
The Scholar’s Walk will consist of a tree-lined concrete path with granite blocks running along both sides. The blocks will bear the names of 150 professors who made substantial contributions to scholarship while working at the University.
Clint Hewitt, associate vice president in the office of master planning, said the goal is to provide a “simple and elegant” path honoring all scholars, not just those whose names will appear.
The University decided on the number 150 to complement the University’s sesquicentennial, and the first half of the project is scheduled for completion in time for the May celebration.
Hewitt emphasized the names on the walk are not intended to be a list of the absolute greatest scholars, because such honors are debatable.
But walkers will see “the ones who have distinguished themselves in their field,” he explained.
To establish the list of names, Hewitt has been working closely with University historians. None of entries have been finalized, although certain names, such as Nobel laureate Norm Borlaug and Izaak Kolthoff, “keep popping up,” he said.
Even the criteria for making the list remains debatable. Issues such as whether to make the list representative across time or departments, or whether to make an effort to include minority and women faculty members, have not been decided.
But Hewitt mentioned he hoped to include professors who have made a substantial contribution to teaching as well as scholarship, and added that current faculty members are not excluded.
In addition to honoring scholarship, the Scholar’s Walk has a functional purpose as well.
Running between the Radisson Hotel and the University Recreation Center, the walk will eventually connect the McNamara Alumni Center with Northrop Mall.
Hewitt said this transition is important because the McNamara Center is separated from the rest of campus right now, and visitors should feel more of a connection walking between it and the heart of the University.
Plus, the walkway provides another green space, cleaning up an area on campus that has been under heavy construction.
Delays in other construction projects hampered plans to complete the entire walkway before the sesquicentennial celebration. Instead, crews will complete one portion before May and finish the stretch behind the Washington Avenue Ramp when construction allows. So far, the first half is on schedule.
The final portion of the walk will weave between buildings and open onto Northrop Mall.

Sam Kean covers administration and can welcomes comments at [email protected]