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The Stories Behind Top Five Class Gifts

Badger pride is sprinkled all over campus and built into the core of UW–Madison. Get ready to be inspired.

Chelsea Rademacher ’13
August 06, 2015
Close-up of class gift dedication on Carillon Tower. | Photo by Jeff Miller

For this week's Top Five we looked at class gifts — turns out, Badger pride is sprinkled all over campus and built into the core of UW–Madison. Get ready to be inspired.

Observatory Sundial
Class of 1908

The Class of 1908 gifted a marble-pedestal sundial. Its location was moved slightly in 1910, at the recommendation of the regents. It was moved again in 1971 and the foundation was reestablished, leading to the sundial as it stands today, near the crest of Observatory Hill.

Botany Gardens Plaza
Class of 1952
The plan for a botany garden was initially pitched in 1959, and planting began in 1961. In 2002 — to celebrate its 50th anniversary — the Class of 1952 aimed to raise $100,000 for creating and naming a new plaza. The gift was part of a larger Botany Gardens’ renovation project, including a gazebo, pond, and series of walkways.

Lakeshore Path
Class of 1963
The Class of 1963’s gift to the Lakeshore Nature Preserve was the first of its kind in thirty years. It allowed for the restoration of the best-known part of the Preserve — the Lakeshore path from the limnology building to Willow Creek. In 2005, work began to control erosion, add resting points, and re-introduce native plants.
You can donate to the Lakeshore Nature Preserve as well.

Carillon Tower
Classes of 1917-1926
In 1916, the dome atop Bascom Hall burned down. The Class of 1917 began a fundraiser to rebuild the tower and to install a set of chimes. The succeeding classes of 1917-1926 all contributed, and Carillon Tower became a unique cumulative gift from ten classes.

Memorial Union
Classes of 1950, ’51, ’52, ’54, ’56, ’57, ’64, ’74, ’78, and ’84
Memorial Union is one of the most popular spots on campus to visit, and it seems to be one of the most popular recipients of class gifts as well. Ten classes have given to Memorial Union: 1950 for the main lounge renovation; 1951 for the outdoor plaza and lakefront areas; 1954 for the second floor renovation; 1956 for Tripp Commons, the east wing event space; 1957 for the Play Circle and endowment fund; 1964 for façade lighting; 1978 for the main entrance; and 1984 for the information center. (The class gifts of 1952 and 1978 are documented as “Memorial Union,” but without a specified project.)

Feeling inspired? We know we are. Read about other class gifts and find out how you can give back.

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