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Pictured cutting the April 30 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new West Dodson Garden, the 2009 LSU Senior Class Gift Project, are, from left: Former LSU Student Government Speaker of the Senate Tyler Martin, SG President Stuart Watkins, LSU Chancellor Michael Martin, former SG President Colorado Robertson, former SG Vice President Shannon Bates, Vice Chancellor of Student Life Eric Monday and SG Speaker of the Senate Ben Clark.

University Dedicates Dodson West Garden as 2009 Senior Class Gift

In an effort to give back to the university, the 2009 LSU graduating class found a way to do just that while also beautifying an area of campus that had been in need of a facelift.

Sudents, administrators, faculty and staff gathered April 30 to officially dedicate the new Dodson West Garden, located between Dodson Auditorium and the Lockett Hall parking lot, as the 2009 LSU Senior Class Gift.

The Dodson West Garden represents the first of a series of annual student-based projects to add to beautifying and upgrading the LSU campus.

The ceremony included a ribbon cutting by outgoing and incoming Student Government officers and university administrators, as well as the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at the front of the garden.

The highlight of the project is the inclusion of bricks engraved with the names of 2009 graduating seniors. The bricks will line the six-foot-wide oval pathway around the formerly vacant lot, now filled with rich green grass and lush vegetation. The façade of Dodson Auditorium facing the courtyard also received a facelift as part of the project.

During the ceremony, outgoing Student Body President Colorado Robertson thanked the numerous individuals and departments who helped make the project a reality, including Student Government and the LSU Division of Student Life, as well as the 2009 class of graduating seniors.

The history of the project dates back to 2007, when the university discussed and approved plans to renovate the space into a more welcoming area. However, a lack of necessary funding held up the project. When Robertson approached university officials early this year with plans to create a senior class gift, they suggested renovating the Dodson area.

Student Government tabbed $34,581.78 from its initiative and surplus accounts for the Dodson project and related work. Campus landscape architect Dennis Mitchell and LSU Facility Services crews created the scenic courtyard, with graduating senior students invited to participate in a series of service days to help design and landscape the project as well.

With the 2009 gift fully funded, Robertson said that the project has already raised more than $35,000 in donations toward its goal of $100,000, which would be used fund the 2010 Senior Class Gift. He added that 450 bricks having been purchased so far, with Student Government having already ordered and placed the first 400 personalized bricks.

“These people who purchased bricks want to leave a proud, lasting legacy on this campus,” Robertson said. “Not only does this project recognize those who purchased bricks, but also the class as a whole.”

Chancellor Michael Martin said that while it is difficult to say goodbye to a graduating class, he feels gifts such as Dodson West Garden help to remember the class’ experiences at LSU and leave a legacy as those students move forward in their lives.

“There is a very special connection that people feel to this place that I’ve come to appreciate,” Martin said. “This is just another demonstration of the connection people have to LSU and their time here.”

Martin also said that the gift does not only signify what the senior class has done, but more represents what the members of the class will do.

“They will leave from here to make a difference, and we will remember them each time we walk by or through this courtyard,” Martin said of the seniors. “It’s a memory of the students being here, but it is also a testament to what we expect of them. This gift is a wonderful example of the connectivity between the students, above and beyond their academic time here, and of their love of this institution.”

While the gift as a whole will recognize the entire class, each 2009 graduate will still have the opportunity to leave his or her personal footprint along the path. Any student graduating in the spring, summer or fall of 2009 with an undergraduate, graduate or doctoral degree may reserve a personalized brick by making a $75 tax-deductible donation. Donations can be made via Fee Bill or submitted online through the LSU Foundation’s Web site, http://www.lsufoundation.org/.

For more information on the 2009 Senior Class Gift, visit http://classgift.lsu.edu.

Aaron Looney | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations
May 2009