By Patricia Brennan
The Senior Committee decided upon a rose garden as the graduation gift for the class of 2015, after several months of discussion and surveying. The final decision was made by the Senior Committee on Friday, Feb. 13. Though the committee considered several ideas over the course of the school year, the idea for a rose garden was eventually proposed by Andy Farley.
Farley, a graduate of the class of 1999, has been one of the driving forces behind the creation of a shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. He serves on the shrine committee with several other alumni, and suggested the idea of a rose garden for the shrine to the Senior Committee.
Senior class representative Dominic Dougherty was surprised at the way the gift was chosen.
“What I expected to happen was for the gift to be voted on democratically by the class,” Dougherty explained. “I saw it as something the Senior Committee wouldn’t really make the final call on.”
Yet time and money constraints made it clear to the Senior Committee that they would have to make the final decision.
“The people who are on the Senior Committee have worked on this for the better part of a year,” Dougherty stated. “Having seen which ideas were popular or which ideas were controversial, we knew
we had to pick something that people could get behind and people could afford.”
The Committee is hoping to make the garden a rosarium, with a bush to represent every bead of a rosary. The Senior Committee will be getting in touch with the shrine committee and landscapers to figure out the best way to implement the rose garden.
Ideas for the senior gift were proposed as early as last summer, when an initial survey went out to gauge general interest and popular opinion. At the beginning of the fall semester, the most popular choices included a running track, an outdoor classroom and a whale fountain.
After the running track was ruled out due to funding and another survey showed the majority of the senior class voting down the whale fountain, the most popular choice that emerged was an outdoor forno, similar to the one on the Due Santi campus in Rome.
The forno also presented a funding problem. If the senior class had created the forno themselves, it would have cost around $6,000 for materials alone. To hire professionals to build the forno would have been about $12,000. Though the idea was not completely infeasible, it would have required vigorous fundraising much earlier in the year.
Artwork was also discussed as a possible senior gift. The Senior Committee considered commissioning a series of paintings of the Stations of the Cross for the church from senior art major Johnny Defilipis. That idea was also struck down because of pricing and the difficulty of putting up artwork in the Church of the Incarnation.
Though a painting will not be the class gift, the Senior Committee is looking into commissioning a painting from Defilipis through other means as a separate gift for the university.
While there will likely be alumni contributions toward the graduation gift, the Senior Committee plans to hold several fundraising events throughout the rest of the semester. Last semester, seniors held a 5K race, which earned around $200. Some of the proposed events for this semester include a picnic basket auction and a used clothing auction.
The Senior Committee plans to work with the shrine committee to ensure the rose garden is in place by the time the shrine is complete. The Senior Committee hopes to have the majority of the senior class turn out to help plant the roses, allowing them to take a physical role in the implementation of the class of 2015’s senior gift.
“Our class really does have a sense of reverence,” Taylor said. “We’ve been struggling with finding a really good gift because we’ve been trying to find something to give back to the university, but we’re also trying to make a larger gift. And with this we’re able to give a gift to Our Lady herself, and really try to beautify the shrine to her in a way that’s very historically consonant with Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
The Senior Committee hopes the graduation gift will encourage graduating classes in the future to continue to add to the shrine, dedicating their graduation gifts to beautifying campus and making the shrine their own for years to come.