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The PSU Centennial Bell Tower

Centennial Bell Tower Starting in May 2000, the Library grounds began physical construction, breaking ground for the 60 foot Centennial Bell Tower, a gift of the graduating classes of 1993-96.

The Tower contains an 800 pound, 34 inch diameter bell, cast in 1874 by the Meneely Bell Company of West Troy, New York. It originally hung in a church in Somerset, Pennsylvania. The bell has been refurbished by Brosamer's Bells in Brooklyn, Michigan. The bell was obtained for the Tower by the family of the late PSU Foundation Trustee O. W. "Jack" Armstrong, a 1942 graduate of PSU. Other funding was provided by Lavonne and Lynn Monroe, Alhambra, CA, Richard and Faith Coleman, Pittsburg, KS, and U.S. Congressman Joseph and Mary Jess Skubitz, Wichita, KS.

The Tower was completed for Homecoming 2000, and a dedication of the Tower and premier striking of the bell took place on October 21 at 12:00 noon.

Ringing the Centennial Tower bell will begin a new tradition at PSU. Students will be able to sound out sports victories. Senior students may ring the bell after completion of final exams signifying their passage from students to anumnus. Other special occasions will also be designated by the University.

Construction timeline

Related links

Dedication Ceremony (October 21st, 2001)

"The Significance of Senior Class Gifts"
Centennial Bell Tower Dedication

By Randy Roberts

21 October 2000

In 1960 the student editors of the Kanza, our University yearbook, wrote, "An organization without traditions is not a complete organization." Now, forty years later, as we approach the centennial celebration of our University, we find there are several traditions well associated with our campus. One of our best-known and most distinctive traditions is that of Apple Day, celebrated every year since 1907. History reveals that P.S.U. also has an enviable tradition of excellent administrators and outstanding faculty. Further, we recognize that our administrators, faculty and staff hold to the tradition of putting our students first. If I may quote from Dr. Bryant's recent inaugural address, "the university has always endeavored to put students first. It is who we are and it is what we do best."

Another tradition developed at P.S.U. as a result of caring about students. Upon graduation, our senior classes present to the University a memorial gift; an expression of their gratitude and the high esteem in which they hold their alma mater. Today, as we dedicate this Centennial Bell Tower, we are also celebrating the continuation of the senior class gifts, a P.S.U. tradition that began with the 33 graduates of 1906. This tradition of senior class gifts is especially significant in the history of P.S.U. for it predates the selection of the Gorilla as our school mascot in 1925. It predates the composition of our school song and the selection of crimson and gold as our school colors in 1910, it predates Apple Day and it even predates the construction of Russ Hall, our first campus building.

The first senior class gift, donated by the graduates of 1906, was a full-sized replica of the statue titled Winged Victory. The gift was reproduced from the original statue found in the Louvre in Paris by the firm of Caproni & Brothers of Boston, Massachusetts. In 1906 the State Manual Training Normal School, as we were called then, did not yet have its own building. It was still holding classes in the Old Central School building located at 5th and Walnut Streets, on loan to the College from the City of Pittsburg. Optimistically, however, plans were being made to construct Russ Hall. The graduates of 1906 felt that the long struggle to establish a college in Pittsburg could best be commemorated by the world's most famous symbol of victory. When it was unveiled, the statue of the Greek goddess Nike, the Winged Victory, was inspiring. The forty-one members of the Class of 1907 followed suit with a replica of Apollo, patron of the arts. Nike and Apollo were joined in 1908 by a replica of Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. When Russ Hall was dedicated in 1908 these three statues impressively greeted visitors on the second floor landing at the head of the stairs.

The history of senior class gifts includes others high in aesthetic qualities. The marble architectural decorations above the west entrance to Brandenburg Field, for example, are the gift of the class of 1924. The reliefs of the football player and the discus thrower, are the works of the renowned sculptor, Waylande Gregory. Other gifts, such as the statue of Gus located in front of the Overman Student Center, have become campus landmarks. Larry Wooster of the P.S.U. Art Department was enlisted by the Senior Class of 1965 to design and to cast the statue of Gus. Some senior gifts have served functional roles or have been given to meet specific needs. After 1955, for example, it was common practice for the monies collected by Senior classes to be held in accounts available for student loans. Earlier, the classes of 1937, 1938, and 1940 contributed to the fund drive to construct a student union building and they built the brick entrance steps leading to Russ Hall from Broadway. Their contemporaries, the class of 1939, purchased the first electronic scoreboard for the old gymnasium. The class of 1910 gave $500.00 to launch the first student newspaper on campus. Other senior classes have chosen to memorialize a popular teacher, a former, University president, or other individuals significant in our history. Examples include original oil portraits of history professor O. F. Grubbs, presidents William Brandenburg and Rees Hughes, and state legislator Ebenezer Porter, the sponsor of the bill that established our school in 1903.

Center stage today are representatives from four senior classes who chose to memorialize a future event in the life of Pitt State, our centennial celebration in 2003. Their senior gifts and gifts from other alumni and friends of the University have been devoted to the construction of this bell tower. I am told they hope the bell tower will be the centerpiece of some new traditions at P.S.U.; seniors will have an opportunity to ring the bell at their graduation and, perhaps, the bell will ring after every P.S.U. football victory. Those are two more great traditions to carry with us into the beginning of our second century.

"Bell tower to be erected soon"
by Jake Rasdall, Reporter

CollegiOnline article. March 3, 2000

As the beautification and improvements of Pittsburg State University continue to grow, perhaps an age-old tradition can be reinstated in the process.

For years PSU had a tradition that the graduating class donates a gift to the University. It started in the early 1900s, but it stopped in the 1970s due to student lack of interest, according to Connie Kays, director of development.

Kays said that over the years many of the school's traditions have died, and by re-establishing the Senior gift she hopes that maybe more traditions can be established for the University.

So, in re-establishing a very old tradition, the PSU classes of 1993, '94, '95 and '96 are donating a sixty foot tall Centennial Bell Tower to be located on the southwest corner of the Axe Library. The cost of the Tower is $203,765, and besides the contributions from the graduating classes, donations were also made by Alumni and friends of the University.

Crossland Construction Company Inc. had the lowest bid for the project and they will begin construction sometime around April. According to Kays, the tentative date for the dedication is planned for October 21, 2000.

Jim Allen was a part of the initial group that got this idea underway as President of the Senior Gift Council in 1994. He said this is a good way to get students involved in giving back to the University after graduation.

"I think it will be an important thing for students to see that alumni are giving back to the University, and it will hopefully put them in the mood to give back after they graduate," Allen said.

Kays was very excited for this project, but also continuing some traditions, and contributing to the overall look of PSU.

"We hardly have any outdoor sculpture. And this bell tower is a good way to start," Kays said.

One tradition is that graduating students will get to ring this bell after taking their final exam. This will signify their passage from a student to Alumnus. Another is for students and the football team to ring the bell after a victory. And the entire senior class may walk through it on the way to graduation.

Allen knows it is hard to create tradition, but he believes that the Bell Tower may do more than that for Pittsburg State.

"One of the main reasons we chose this type of structure is because we believe that it will become a symbol of this University in the future," Allen said.

The classes of 1997, '98, and '99 have decided to construct the two-faced gorilla mascot made out of granite to be built on the oval. Construction for this project is predicted to be constructed in about six years.

Currently the class of 2000 is voting on a Senior gift.

Last Modified: Oct 05, 2006 - 12:36

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