Class gift brings back 100 year old tradition

The long-forgotten bell in the new Goodrich Student Center is being restored by the Class of 1998 as their gift to the college. This gift will not only honor the class by leaving this very noticeable gift behind, but will bring back a hundred-year tradition.

The bell will ring on Class Day during the Ivy Exercises this year. In the years to follow, the bell will ring upon every athletic victory over Amherst College. This ceremonial ringing after Amherst victory was once a tradition started in 1905.

By contributing to this project, seniors will be making their first donation to the Alumni Fund. Seniors will also be able to donate the class gift in honor of any person who has influenced their education.

Joan Genova from the Alumni Relations Office states that the alumni are very excited for this revival of tradition, because in the past few years students have lacked excitement for Williams traditions.

“We’d love to see people come out and support this effort. We’d love to see the seniors excited about leaving something behind,” Genova said.

Every year the graduating class at Amherst College has higher participation than Williams in giving to their respective Alumni Funds. And as stated in the letter to the seniors concerning the bell, “It’s time to turn the tables.”

Thirty years after Amherst was founded, Goodrich was built as a physical reminder that Williams had survived. In 1857 Reverend Eli Corwin pledged to furnish a rope if someone would furnish a bell for the then newly-built Goodrich Chapel. Honorary member of the alumni society Pierpont Isham agreed to furnish the bell and it was cast in 1858. This bell was used to call students to chapel, announce the time and was most likely rung for commencement and alumni exercises as well.

The class officers felt that the bell embodied the perfect gift.

“When you look at recent gifts, the history has been to raise money within the class, and given our unemployed status, that usally is not a signifcant sum…usually around $1,998, and then give that to the college to put toward everything, financial aid, operating expenses, etc.,” ChrisBell ’98 said. “But at the same time, and I agree with the logic, while we want to do something tangible we don’t want to have every class do some major monument and clog the campus with busts of Ephraim Williams. So there needed to be a middle ground.”

The bell also seemed to be the gift of choice because of its relatively low cost and notable presence.

“The beauty of the bell is that… it is not going to tax our class financially since the bell is essentially in fine order and require little work. And to commemorate and clarify this to future Ephs, we’d have a historical plaque with the revived tradition and history of the bell written up at the foot of the stairs,” Bell said.

Mac Harman ’98 and Bell are enthused about this gift because it is a way to give to the school in a tangible fashion and enhances the college’s history and tradition.

“Planning our Class Gift was a lot like building a good snowman. First we started with a great nucleus of an idea–doing something with the Goodrich bell–and then the details just rolled into place,” Harman said. “The more we talk about the bell, the more people that get excited. I’ve already been receiving e-mails and other correspondance from alums that are thrilled about the project.”

As Harman graduates, the Goodrich Project has been left in the hands of Ryan Mayhew ’01 who will be the future Goodrich manager.

“Right now I’m taking care of a lot of odds and ends, getting things set up and getting the campus departments on the same page,” Mayhew said. “I think [the bell] will definitely be a big draw to the building, especially for the athletic groups. It’s just a wonderful tradition to reestablish.”

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