At a school that emphasizes history in its academics, it only makes sense that Hillsdale considers its own history too. The Alumni Brick Walk, which was dedicated in October 1994, does just that.
While originally started to raise money for the college, the Brick Walk has turned into a path of history. It runs from the corner of Hillsdale and East College streets to the front of Delp Hall. Many of the bricks in the walk are engraved, bearing names, quotes, or inside jokes from students, faculty, and donors.
“Going through, you see people’s names you went to school with and that you know,” Mossey Library public service librarian and alumna Brenna Wade ’08 said. “It’s interesting to find people’s bricks and to remember and to think about everything that went on.”
The idea for the brick walk began in 1989 during a fundraising campaign.
“Originally the funds for it were to go to the renovation to the fine arts building, but because it actually cost more to renovate than to build a new building, they tore it down,” said Ronda Deer, historian for the Alumni Executive Board and chairwoman of the Alumni Walk. “So now our funds go to our Alumni Legacy Scholarship, which goes to students who have parents, sisters, brothers who attended Hillsdale.”
There are more than 3,000 engraved bricks on the walk, and each one costs $150. Although the majority of them were purchased by individuals, the beginning of the walk features past presidents of the Alumni Association.
Money for the fund not only comes from brick purchases, but also from the direct donations to the fund. So far, more than $1 million has been raised. Although donations are consistent, brick purchases have slowed.
“For this year for spring and fall, we only had about 30 orders, but there have been years when we’ve had 300,” Deer said.
For some, the walk plays an important role in the history of the college.
“College life is very transient, so when you leave, within four years there’s not a student left on campus who remembers who you are,” Public Services Librarian Linda Moore said. “So for faculty and staff, it’s kind of nice to be able to leave a permanent remembrance of them on the alumni walk. I think it’s important, at least to the alumni and for other individuals, people who have worked here a long time.”
Deer helped spearhead the project and still maintains the walk today.
“I’ve continued to take care of it,” she said. “Today we put in 12 bricks, and I will go home tomorrow and put them on the map so that the Alumni Office has a record of where all the bricks are.”
Although she did not choose at first to work on the walk, the project has become close to her heart.
“My involvement with the brick walk has been a dedication of love for the college,” Deer said. “It’s just going to be there to be a testament to the people who bought a brick, who cared about the College, and wanted to be remembered in some way as having attended Hillsdale College.”