Seniors choose to restore and display Old Main bell as class gift

November 13, 2008

University Park, Pa. -- Penn State's Senior Class Gift Committee announced Thursday (Nov. 13) the class of 2009's gift to the University: the Restoration and Display of the Old Main Bell. Seniors so far have pledged more than $20,000 to the project that will help to build on Penn State's storied history.

"Nearly every graduating class since 1861 has provided a gift to the University as a symbol of gratitude and pride for their alma mater, and the class of 2009 is honored to continue this legacy with the restoration and display of the Old Main bell," said Liz Kernion, overall chair of the senior class gift committee.

Old Main's bronze bell, cast in 1871, has not rung since the last day of class in June 1929 and can be seen only by visitors to the limited-access bell tower. The class will fund the removal of the bell from the tower and its subsequent restoration and display in a prominent campus location so that it can be appreciated as a symbol of Penn State's heritage. A committee will be formed to oversee the next steps in the project's development.

According to Penn State President Graham Spanier, it is hoped that eventually the bell could be rung on special occasions, allowing the campus community to "hear" University history and perhaps start a new tradition.

"Each class wants to leave its mark on this great University and we are pleased that the members of this senior class have seized this initial opportunity to give back to their alma mater," said Spanier. "It is a sign of loyalty, pride, gratitude and love — and it is a gesture for which we are deeply grateful. I'm delighted that the Class of 2009 has chosen a gift that will be seen and enjoyed by countless students, faculty members, alumni and campus visitors, and honors the legacy of Penn State."

More than 2,500 seniors cast their ballots last week, in person and online, to vote for one of three proposals: the Class of 2009 Undergraduate Trustee Scholarship, the Mount Nittany Vista at the Bryce Jordan Center, and the Restoration and Display of the Old Main Bell. These proposals were selected from about 40 submitted by members of the University community.

Funds for the class gift come from seniors pledging all or a portion of their remaining general deposit or making cash gifts. The University holds the $100 deposit during a student's time at Penn State and uses it to cover unforeseen expenses, fees, and emergency costs.

The 2009 senior class gift committee includes Kernion; Trina Finney, gift development chair; Avery Peechatka, public relations chair; Kimmie Aubrey, student relations chair; Jenny Georges, student relations chair; and Jill Caffrey, marketing chair.

Visit to see photos of the gift announcement and the bell.

The tradition of class gifts began when the class of 1861, at its reunion in 1890, gave the University a portrait of Penn State's first president, Evan Pugh, which still hangs in the lobby of Old Main. Visit to find out more about previous class gifts to Penn State.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009