Senior class gift announced

Jenna Sommer and Joe Dougherty, Contributing Writers

Jenna Sommer (left) and Joe Dougherty (right) are the class of 2016 Senior Committee chairs. Photo by Elizabeth Kerin.

The student senate Senior Committee has chosen the gift of the class of 2016: a series of seven international crucifixes for the seven classrooms of the new SB Hall.

Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Student Life Dr. John Plotts communicated President Thomas Keefe’s approval to Senior Committee co-chairs Joe Dougherty and Jenna Sommer.

The committee spent months in conversation with seniors and the administration to balance the various demands placed on the gift proposal: stewardship, aesthetics, gravitas, durability, respect and popularity.

One of their primary goals was to meet the needs and desires of the University of Dallas community, inspired by Keefe’s belief that giving is a conversation.

SB Hall emerged as the prime site for the senior gift, as the committee wanted to respond to Satish and Yasmin Gupta’s own 2013 gift to the university.

Other gift ideas included expanding the Cap Bar to Braniff or SB Hall; renovating the Orpheion, the outdoor theater behind Braniff; bringing the Rome campus’ Italian chefs to cook for students on the Irving campus; and setting up hammocks or a hobbit hole on campus.

The committee said that the crucifixes will be the first sacred art in SB Hall and will substantiate the building’s international character.

It will also continue the university’s tradition of putting crucifixes in every classroom, uniting the new hall with the rest of the campus in a gesture of universal love.

The committee plans to dedicate the gift to Zach Clark and John Daniel Phillips.

Clark, 21, died in July when his car hydroplaned off a highway in Kansas.

Phillips, 19, was killed in a car accident in Arkansas in December 2012. At the time, he was in his first year at Holy Trinity Seminary.

Both Clark and Phillips would have graduated with the class of 2016. Members of the committee believed both would appreciate this tribute, as both were young men of great faith.

The committee added that the devotional power of the crucifix cannot be overstated.

“[The crucifix is] the deepest source of Christian humility, which inspires both repentance and gratitude within the souls of those who look upon Him whom they have pierced,” senior English major Mitchell Blackburn wrote in his reflection “The Power of the Crucifix.”

All those interested in supporting the gift will have numerous opportunities to do so in the near future.

Planned fundraisers range from grill-outs to Groundhog-grams.

If gift expenses do not run high, the Senior Committee will also host faculty-senior socials and could even look at offering a second gift, such as a fire pit near Madonna Hall.

Besides choosing the senior gift, the responsibilities of the Senior Committee include hosting the Champagne Breakfast, giving nominations to the university president for the commencement speaker, during Groundhog weekend and coming up with senior superlatives.

Previous senior gift proposals have ranged from the class of 2012’s installation of icons in each dorm to the class of 2013’s plan to erect a $20,000 groundhog statue on campus. Eventually this was abandoned due to controversy and cost.


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