Willamette University

Alumni Tidbits and Briefs

Think you know campus?

(You Might Not Know These Parts)

As classmates return to campus this time of year for Alumni Weekend, many rediscover their favorite spots, memorials or views. For those who aren’t able to make the visit, here are three staff favorites to get the reminiscing started.


Rose Garden Sundial

Rose Garden Sundial

Raise your hand if you ever knew the four words inscribed on the campus sundial, which stands in a shroud of roses between Eaton Hall and the State Capitol. Charity, Audacity, Sagacity and Holiness: What a story these could tell.

“These ideas are perfect,” says Karen Wood, associate chaplain for vocational discernment and director of the Lilly Project. “I was thrilled when I first saw this.”

The sundial, it turns out, was a gift from the class of 1916 in honor of Professor James Matthews. Matthews taught mathematics at Willamette for an astonishing 49 years, and he worked right up to his death at the end of the 1941–42 academic year (observers noted that he still finished his final grading).


Oregon Rock

Alumni Weekend

Liesa Kister, university information coordinator, likes to send people to the Oregon rock and see what happens.

“People think they’ve ‘discovered’ this rock all the time,” she says with a laugh. But it’s been there for years, and nobody we’ve talked to knows whether it was deliberate or an accident.

The rock, which is part of the Hatfield Fountain, really is shaped just like Oregon, but it still looks like it was formed naturally rather than by an architect’s design. Kister points out that it would make good sense for a fountain named after Mark Hatfield ‘43 to have a rock the shape of Oregon in its structure, but its origins remain, well, underwater.


Echo Spot

Echo Spot

At a point along the path to Sigma Chi, right where four sidewalk panels meet, a strange thing happens.

Because this spot faces a round-slab bench (to be accurate, there are two such spots because there are two identical benches), sound echoes back to the central point. Stand there facing the right direction and you’ll hear yourself sounding somewhere between Donald Duck and Barry Gibb.

“Whenever my children show people around campus, they make sure everyone knows this is the coolest spot to go to,” says Tori Ruiz, administrative assistant for residence life.


What’s your favorite spot? Email us and we might print it in a future issue: scene@willamette.edu.