Alumni walk nears completion

by Naomi Scott

The new campus walkway connecting McNamara alumni center to Appleby Hall will be finished by mid-month, said Larry Laukka, volunteer head of the Gateway Corporation.

The construction on the monument and 2,000-foot-long sidewalk will not stop if winter weather hits before the project is finished, said Laukka, a University alumnus. But some landscaping and “touch-up” work might be done next spring, he said.

Designed to honor distinguished University alumni, the walkway will be lined with trees and benches. It will also feature a glass monument representing the night sky on the University’s founding date Feb. 25, 1851.

“It’s kind of a birthday salute,” Laukka said.

The University astronomy department helped design the monument, Laukka said.

Professor of astronomy Leonard Kuhi said he checked over the design to make sure it was accurate.

Kuhi said he was “delighted that the North Star is prominently featured on the monument.” He said the University is compared to a “beacon bright” and “the Northern Star” in the “Hail Minnesota” fight song.

Laukka said that students have complained during the building phase, which began in August. Students were forced to alter their walking paths around the construction area.

“But the same people who are complaining will be appreciative of the walkway,” Laukka said.

The walkway is also a memorial to more than 1,000 recipients of Oustanding Alumni Awards, which is the highest honor the Univeristy can give to a graduate, Laukka said.

According to the Alumni Association Web site, Antoine Predock designed the walkway. He also designed the McNamara alumni center.

The walkway cost $2.5 million and was privately funded by the Gateway Corporation, a nonprofit organization from the University Foundation, the Alumni Association and the Minnesota Medical Foundation.

Laukka said he hopes the walkway will inspire students.

“We hope to encourage people to think about the great Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners that have come from the University,” Laukka said.