The tree was cut down in 2006 during construction of the Atkins-Holman Student Commons, but it continues to have life on campus. In addition to the sliced memorial, wood from the tree now adorns the doorway of Dorsey Chapel. Its lumber was also used to create a bench that sits outside of the president’s office and a table in a Launer Hall conference room.
Perhaps its greatest purpose is to serve as a timeless reminder of the college’s stewardship of resources. Even as the college grows and evolves to meet student needs, administrators have been cautious caretakers of campus history.
“There has been a concerted effort to preserve the exteriors of our historic buildings while making the interiors functional for a 21st Century campus,” Cliff Jarvis, executive director of plant and facilities, said.
The Academic and Residence Hall is bordered to the west by the aforementioned Brouder Science Center, a 53,000-square-foot building that opened in 2013. The science center houses nursing, forensic science, biology and chemistry programs. At one point, Jarvis considered also using it for eSports.
Bob Klausmeyer, director of campus safety, was the one who first noticed the building’s potential: An intimate, stand-alone structure next to the athletic complex would be a perfect den for video game play.
After being gutted, reimagined for gamers and remodeled accordingly, the Game Hut is now a model for colleges around the country. It’s the first building on a campus to be solely dedicated to eSports. President Dalrymple was so impressed with the final product, he created the Midwest Campus Clash, showcasing the college’s commitment to eSports to teams from across the region.
“Everything seems to have a domino effect,” Jarvis said. “Just as we consider history, we have to envision how projects will affect us in five to 10 years—making sure whatever we do doesn’t cause problems years from now.”
The Hulett Family Campus Safety office was relocated as well during that project, with offices moving from buildings on the edge of campus to a new addition construction off of St. Clair Hall. It’s had a tremendous impact, Klausmeyer said.
“Having a more centralized location has changed Campus Safety dramatically,” he said. “Before, we rarely saw students unless they had a parking ticket or concern. Now, they constantly stop in to say ‘hi.’ We interact with visitors, we’re more visible and our interactions with students are positive.”
The 2016 project also included creation of a garden that pays homage to Christian College for Women. It includes a timeline of the college from its beginnings through 1970, when it became the four-year, co-ed Columbia College.
In the center of the garden stands another nod to yesterday and tomorrow. The college planted a white oak tree similar to the one that was removed more than a decade ago. It’s a white swamp oak, just a bit hardier than the chinkapin, and it’s expected to stand watch as the college moves into its next two centuries.
“We planted an oak in the middle to replace the one we lost,” said Brent Schneider, director of facilities. “We’re thinking of our history and 150 years in the future.”
Jim Innes is set to retire after nearly 22 years at Columbia College. Read more about his work making the main campus beautiful here.