Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Senior gift lights up Driscoll Center

Instead of taking a piece of campus with them, DU’s senior class is leaving a piece of campus behind.

DU’s Class of 2009 has left DU with a 3-foot by 6-foot piece of stained glass that depicts campus landmarks with a mountain background. It was hung in a window above Jazzman’s Café in Driscoll North on May 29.

Nick Phelps, one of the two 2008–09 senior senators, said his goal was to leave behind a “physical gift that makes a lasting impression.” Some previous classes left scholarships, but they would barely raise more than a few hundred dollars, Phelps explains.

This year, Phelps developed more of a campaigning tactic than in years past, targeting parents of seniors and sending out personalized letters.

“The problem is, after paying so much money for tuition, students aren’t the ones who have extra money to contribute to the University.”

His tactic seems to have worked. As of June 2, the senior class has collected 42 gifts amounting to $2,724 toward the $3,000 piece of art.

The art depicts three of DU’s most prominent towers: Mary Reed Building, the Ritchie Center and Buchtel Chapel. Behind them are mountains to inspire a “Colorado feel.”

“It’s something people will see and will have high volume and traffic,” Phelps says of the artwork.

The artist is Steve Skelton, owner of Steve’s Custom Stained Glass in Aurora, Colo. The piece took him months to complete.

“Each individual piece of glass is cut by hand and then soldered together,” Skelton explains. “It’s very time-consuming.”

The art is framed so it can be moved. If the Driscoll Student Center gets remodeled as planned, the artwork won’t be destroyed, Phelps says.

The class is also hoping their gift begins a tradition. Phelps is encouraging other classes to continue donating stained-glass art so it would adorn a line of Driscoll Center windows.

“It’s something very different comparatively to what we have,” Phelps says. “It’s not crimson and gold and it’s not copper.”

“Senior class gifts are a great way for students to celebrate their academic achievements at DU while also acknowledging the impact the University has had on their lives,” says Scott Lumpkin, associate vice chancellor of University Advancement. “The senior class gift is a tradition that goes back for generations and marks the passage from students to alumni.”

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