the Class of 1988’s gift was the University Seal, and the Class of 2004’s gift paid to update the Long Walk on the Oval, the brick path that runs east to west through the middle of the Oval.
Students across Ohio State’s campus walk past gifts from Buckeyes past — and they might not even realize it.
The tradition of class gifts at OSU began in 1891, when students planted five elm trees on the Oval, according to giveto.osu.edu. Since then, classes from every decade have given back to the university by donating monetary gifts to leave a lasting mark long after graduation.
Past class gifts have included: Orton Hall chimes (1906-1914); William Oxley Thompson Statue (1923, 1925-1926, 1928); development fund to build South Campus Gateway (1939-1940); the Victory Bell (1943-1944, 1954); campus entrance signs (1953); the “Long Walk” restoration on the Oval (2004); and the Block “O” Fire Pit outside the Ohio Union (2009).
Renee Watts, facilities manager for the College of Public Health, said this year’s gift is the Cunz Hall Rain Garden, which is a continuation of the 2010 class gift. Watts, the overseer of the rain garden, said it is an eco-friendly site that will collect rainwater from the surrounding pavement to be filtered. Fifteen bald cypress trees, 200 low-grow sumac plants and 600 grass patches will be planted to absorb the pollutants of the rainwater and replace the groundwater.
Located outside of Cunz Hall and on the lawn circle of the RPAC, the rain garden will also feature a walking path, an informational plaque and three years of maintenance.
Watts said the gift will be a part of the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) renovation on campus. This is in conjunction with the reconstruction of Cunz Hall.
“This is a signature project as far as campus goes right now. Once we get it finished, it’s going to be a very neat place to hang out because we’re going to have a southwest plaza area that’s got trees, benches and tables,” Watts said.
She said the project is on schedule to be completed by Fall Quarter and will cost an estimated $40,000.
Lexi Killoren, development officer for the College of Public Health, said she believes students should support the project because of the lasting impact it will have on the university.
“It helps make the campus a beautiful place and an environmentally-friendly place,” Killoren said. “The class gift is the first step in creating this culture of giving.”
The cost to donate to this year’s class gift is $20.11 per student.
Like many class gifts, third- and fourth-year students decided on The Cunz Hall Rain Garden, said Tina Thome, coordinator of the class gift. Emails are sent that ask students for suggestions and are compiled and compared with suggestions from the university’s architecture office. Based on student demand, funding and campus needs, another email is sent to students to vote for their final choice. She said the cost of the gifts are typically between $25,000-$30,000.
“Students have said quite frequently that they want their class gift to be something eco-friendly or at least something tangible,” Thome said. “They want something that when they come back to campus, they can see what they gave back to.”
Mark Mangia, a third-year in medical technology, said he is pleased with this year’s pick for the class gift.
“I was very impressed with it not being the typical gift. I think it’s definitely somewhere I appreciate us going just in regards to the university moving forward into new times,” Mangia said. “It’s very important for us to not just be splattering campus with benches or rocks or things that aren’t necessarily beneficial.”
Mangia helped found the Student Philanthropy Board, which he said is building a culture of paying it forward. He said it also pushes the class gift to be more meaningful and personalized by allowing students to give to the organizations that mean the most to them.
“It’s not important to give a lot,” Mangia said. “What’s important is that you give.”