Campus History

I have been in Auburn for the majority of my life – about fourteen of my twenty-three years. Through the years I have seen almost every aspect of campus change in one way or another. There have been new buildings built, old ones torn down, new roads and walkways, but the most profound change that I have seen on campus is the Memorial Garden on the corner of Samford Avenue and Mell Street. This project is my favorite because it is an ever-changing way for Auburn’s history to be renewed yet preserved. Students, faculty, and family members are always welcome to come and walk amongst the garden and enjoy the serene environment while reflecting on life. This memorial is one way that Auburn has improved its PDH (public displays of history). I like that this public historical monument is always taking on new meaning. It isn’t meant to memorialize one moment in history, or one person, or set of people. It is always gathering new meaning and significance. For example, the 9/11 memorial in New York City is a beautiful way to remember what happened on that tragic day. The monument’s intended meaning, to memorialize those who lost their lives on that day, is set in stone. No people will be added to it. With Auburn’s memorial, there is new meaning attached every year. It pays homage to past students, faculty, and members of the family while gaining new significance every day. I think Auburn hit a home run with this memorial. The city/university has quite a lot of historic markers, yet this was a very creative way to turn an old piece of property into a revitalized public history space. When I first moved here, there was nothing more than a few markers at random spots, and the university didn’t really have much to honor its history. The library occasionally had a small local history display, but that was about it. Now we have professors collaborating with students to create things like the Creed Week in which we honor the university’s creed and its past over the span of the week. We have the memorial garden and statue honoring influential female leaders. We have a hall honoring the history of our athletic department. Our department also hosts numerous events at Pebble Hill to educate members of the community on our past and how we should move forward. Overall, I think as time passes, Auburn is doing more and more outstanding work honoring our history and using it to create a narrative that we work into today’s world.

One Comment

  1. I enjoyed reading your post because I am very new to Auburn and, especially with the pandemic causing many events and traditions to be cancelled, I have not had a true Auburn experience. You provide insight into some positive changes in Auburn, but I wonder is it enough? Who do these changes benefit?

    Hopefully I will be able to catch some of these traditions once we return to some more normalcy!

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