Each year, the departing senior class leaves a gift for the University of Dallas. But when students seriously suggest amusing ideas like a whale fountain, a hot tub or a hobbit hole, I begin to doubt the value of my contribution. As a professor of mine once observed, UD inspires an almost fanatical love in its students. I am no exception to that devotion. However, I would like to show my appreciation for my education, my professors and my wonderful school in a more substantial way.
No one wants their money going to a “gimmicky” gift. Many students take on debt to receive a liberal arts education that is often undervalued in our utilitarian society. Seniors past and present have pointed out that they have already paid tens of thousands of dollars to attend UD, so why should they give more? We also give to worthy causes every October during Charity Week to aid veterans, struggling families in Third World countries and expectant mothers at crisis pregnancy centers.
These are valid concerns, and all that is all the more reason why the senior committee has a grave responsibility to make sure their gift truly benefits the community, now and in the future.
Past gifts have included renovating the Madonna basketball courts, placing in each resident hall an image of its respective patron saint, adding to the Braniff Library’s collection, creating the mosaic of the university’s seal in Haggar and commissioning the Mary statue outside the Church of the Incarnation.
The administration has been doing a great job with campus beautification. UD received the City of Irving’s beautification award this year for, among other things, the addition of the bridge connected to the Cilfordi plaza. Why don’t we help continue their work? We all came despite the brown buildings, but we want the campus to reflect the more beautiful aspects of UD, like our unique culture and fine education. In other words, appearances matter.
New and beautiful art in the Church of the Incarnation would be a great start. How about a pieta? Or Stations of the Cross on the walls instead of the floor where students unknowingly tread on them? What about expanding the garden around our beautiful new shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe? How about a scholarship for a student struggling to make it to Rome?
By now, most seniors will have seen the email asking them to complete a survey on the class gift. Besides the hobbit hole, other ideas are hammocks, bringing the Italian chefs over from our Rome campus to cook for our Irving campus, renovating the Orpheion (a long-forgotten outdoor theater behind Braniff), and expanding the Cap Bar to Braniff or the new College of Business building. There is, however, a space to write your own suggestions.
UD is not just another stop on our odyssey. Let’s leave something behind that shows more gravitas than a hobbit hole.