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Walk right in. Sit right down!

Campus Benches Commemorate Alumni, Friends

By Jennifer Hamlin Church

Outside the main entrance to the McLaughlin University Center, Alice Robie Resnick ’61 on one side waves to her faculty mentor, Sr. Ann Joachim, OP, on the other. At the opposite entrance, the 2012-13 Alumni Board sits for a spell.

And in Trinity Garden, Marjorie (Mickey) Gable Reagan ’44 tosses her red curls and laughs, inviting classmates to stop for a visit as they pass by.

OK, so those people are not here, not in body anyway; but they—and others—are back at Siena in spirit, engaged in today’s University thanks to the new commemorative benches all around campus. Ten benches, each with its own plaque, invite students, faculty and visitors to rest for a moment and—perhaps—remember or imagine the people named there.

When the bench project reached mailboxes a year ago, Jim Reagan, Mickey Reagan’s eldest son, was one of the first responders. His mother had died recently. He and his four brothers—Bill, Dan, Chris and Shawn—thought a bench on campus would be “a wonderful tribute to our mother who had great memories of her days at Siena Heights.” The daughter of a St. Joseph Academy alumna, Mickey Gable came from Lorain, OH, to enroll in Siena’s two-year secretarial program. Pictures from 1943 and ’44 show her smiling—always—with friends: laughing at the top of a flagpole pyramid in front of Sacred Heart Hall, perched on the railing overlooking Trinity Garden, posed in front of the archangel sculpture on a spring day as the snow melts. Mickey’s bench now sits under the Trinity Garden gingko tree, just outside Benincasa, a welcome resting spot for students between classes.

Judge Resnick was an early fan of the bench project, too. “What a great idea!” she said. Now all alumni from the 35 years of Sister “AJ’s” faculty tenure can sit down and revisit their memories of the legendary professor.

There’s plenty of room for more benches. If you would like to name one for yourself, a friend, group or special professor, contact the advancement office. Other commemorative giving opportunities include trees for the campus and bricks for the McLaughlin University Center plaza. Let us know if you would like more information.

In the meantime, come visit campus. Find a bench, sit down and enjoy the view. You never know who might be there!

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