Saturday, February 23, 2013
The East Carolina University community unveiled a memorial sculpture and garden on Friday to honor students who passed away while attending the university.
The unveiling took place after the Board of Trustees quarterly meeting where they unanimously voted to move forward with the two proposed student centers, one on main campus and one on the health sciences campus.
According to an ECU news release, the board is scheduled to hear an update on programming and funding for the centers this fall. The university will then seek approval for the centers from the UNC General Administration and Board of Governors. Construction could begin as early as Fall 2014.
ECU sophomore fine arts student Trey Martin designed the scuplture and said it includes stone from a quarry in Mount Airy to symbolize a strong foundation, a broken disk to symbolize the circle of life that got interrupted and three doves “which have lots of symbolism.” The statue stands 12 feet high, and Martin said it is designed to feel as if the doves are looking down on those who pass by.
Martin’s sculpture was chosen by ECU students from three finalists.
Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor of Student Affairs, said she thought of the idea of a sculpture garden after she realized the school had no way to honor students who had died.
“Two or three years ago, we actually had a young man who was killed in battle,” Hardy said. “I realized we didn’t have a place on campus for students to congregate and talk with each other about their (feelings).
“We needed a sculpture that would fit with this memorial garden,” she said. “We needed it to give the message of serenity, meditation and reflection.”
Matt Paske, Student Government Association president, said the memorial garden reminds people that once they become part of the ECU family, they will always be remembered.
“Every day we go to class here and during orientation, we’re told that once you’re a Pirate, you’re always a Pirate,” he said. “We’re blessed now that we have that memorial garden outside that we really can say we’re forever Pirates.”
Nancy Ball is the parent of a Geography Department masters student, Katie, who died five years ago from cancer.
“When you look at the sculpture you see two images, one depicting lost of life and one representing hope and life and beauty,” Ball said. “The garden is a tribute to the students we have lost, but it’s also a place of refuge for all our students and faculty.
“It’s a great comfort for the families who have lost loved ones to know that the Pirate Nation remembers them in this very special place,” she said.
Hardy said the university also is in the process of developing and “emergency fund” to assist the families and friends of students who die while at ECU. The fund could help parents travel to ECU from other states or help campus friends of a student travel to attend a memorial service or funeral for that student.
Contact Katherine Ayers at firstname.lastname@example.org and 252-329-9567.
Follow her on Twitter @KatieAyersGDR.