BY CHASE GORSKI
While many students have taken advantage of the Academic Commons (GAC) since it opened in 2016, few were aware that the building was still awaiting its final touch.
On September 6 that final touch was christened with a dedicatory concert.
This last piece was a 14-ton carillon instrument made up of 48 bells placed in the bell tower of the GAC, which will take over as the new hourly toll that faculty, staff and students will be able to hear on campus throughout the day.
The carillon, which has great historical significance as the first traditional carillon on the Eastern Shore, was made possible by a $2.4 million donation from the well-known entrepreneur William Church. Church made the donation in memory of his late partner, Samuel Brown, who passed away in 2013.
Brown and Church were business partners as well, co-founding Brown & Church Ltd., a neckwear manufacturing company together. But they were also strong supporters of the Sea Gulls.
Both Church and Brown had contributed significant donations to Salisbury University in the past, and Church serves on the board of directors for SU Foundation, Inc.
According to the Executive Director of the SU Foundation, Jason Curtin, it was their love of music that drove Church to make the donation in honor of Brown.
“One thing that was a constant in their life was music. . .throughout the years they were always big fans of anything that we did musically on campus,” Curtin said. “[President Dudley-Eshbach] talked with him about this project and it just came to fruition through that.”
SU Foundation Inc., is responsible for accepting private donations on behalf of the university, due to its ties with the state.
The two largest bells, which together weigh almost four tons, have both of their names inscribed in them. Those bells were constructed separately by London’s Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the same location where the original Liberty Bell and Big Ben were made.
The last 46 bells were cast at Meeks, Watson & Co. in Georgetown, Ohio which is the largest carillon bell manufacturer in the United States.
The carillon bells add to the already dynamic structure on campus, in the bell tower which is visible from mostly anywhere at the university. It is the tallest structure on campus and now has a greater representation as well both symbolizing for Church, the memories of his late partner, and for students a reminder of music.
“There are many things about our campus that set us apart. . .when you think of an instrument like this it almost has that ‘Ivy League’ feel,” Curtin said. “It’s another unique element about our campus that sets us apart.”
Curtin believes that the atmosphere of campus is increased greatly with the carillon bells, specifically in the change from the automated bells that used to chime on the hour from Conway Hall, to real bells.
One aspect about this donation and past donations from Church and Brown that sets them apart, is their alma mater.
No, they were not Sea Gulls many years ago, though they are considered to be Sea Gulls now. This makes the countless donations, namely this $2.4 million donation, that much more special for the SU community.