Notes from Under the Oaks

I've always been awed by the power of buildings to evoke emotion. Buildings are simply timber and steel, bricks and concrete, yet they have the ability to make us feel.

Even fifteen years after I first laid eyes on Marsh Hall, I still feel an incredible sense of nostalgia and pride when I see those red bricks through the trees.

Although I was not yet alive when the Columbus Day storm raged through town, the photo above has the ability to take my breath largely because I am drawn into it by the glimpse of Marsh Hall behind the destruction.

Here in the Abbott Alumni Center, a cozy and sweet little structure, we’re all positively buzzing about a wonderful Homecoming last weekend when we had a record number of alumni back on campus. It is remarkable how many alumni who returned for Homecoming hadn’t been on campus since graduation and were stunned by the changes that have unfolded in the ensuing years.

 If you missed Homecoming and haven’t been back in a while, I’d like to say, “Don’t be a stranger.”

One of the many reasons to revisit campus again and again is to integrate oneself in the change. During Homecoming we broke ground on a new residence hall. While enormously exciting, this groundbreaking was a poignant reminder of how progress brings change.

The first stage of construction for this building was the removal of sod on what was left of Tom Reynolds Field, where soccer was played until the addition of new fields at Lincoln Park. Many alumni remember this field as McCready Field, home of Badger (and later Boxer) football for nearly 100 years. In recent years, some of the field was replaced with new tennis courts.

While we’re all very excited about this change, which will eventually lead to the removal of Clark Hall and a complete transformation of this corner of campus, we took a bittersweet moment at the ground breaking to reflect on the long history of this soil.

Although the buildings remain long after we’ve graduated and moved on (or in my case moved on and then came back to work), it is alumni who truly hold the history of the University. McCready Field or Clark Hall or Marsh Hall amid the rubble of the storm mean nothing without the stories from alumni who bring those places to life.

Please, don’t be a stranger!

Come home and share your stories. Whether you join us for Homecoming 2014 or you stop by the Abbott Alumni Center for a cup of coffee on your way through town, we want to see you on campus and hear your stories.

I hope to see you soon!

Best wishes,

Martha Calus-McLain ‘03
Director of Alumni Relations

Posted by Martha Calus-Mclain ( on Oct 18, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Edited by Rachael Burbank ( on Oct 21, 2013 at 3:38 PM

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