Brick, book or both?

During this weekend’s Commencement ceremonies, graduates will be praised for their achievements. Soon, they will be memorialized in bricks – or books, if the sentiment strikes them and they fill out the necessary form.

Every year, GW commemorates its students by etching the name, degree and graduating year of all graduates, free of charge, on a brick to be laid on campus.

Jason Miller, director of alumni benefits and outreach, said University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg initiated the program in 1989 as a way to recognize alumni of the University.

Some graduating seniors said the program is an excellent idea and a good way for the University to show its appreciation for graduates.

“It’s a nice gesture and I think that it’s appropriate for the University to recognize the contributions of its graduates just as we as graduates recognize what we have gained from the University,” senior and Student Association Senator Peter Feldman said. “I think the brick is a good way to recognize that.”

While all graduates are automatically recognized on a brick, they also have the option of creating a bookplate in their name at Gelman Library, also free of charge. The bookplate option began about 10 years ago when some graduates preferred that their names be commemorated within the library, instead of – or in addition to – outside it.

“It’s really easy,” Associate University Librarian Andrea Stewart said. “All you have to do is request a form, fill it out and we’ll tell you when the book is done.”

The library selects the commemorated book based on the field in which the student studied, and it is usually a recent publication relevant to the degree of the graduate. After the bookplates are made, graduates are notified of the call number so that they can locate it.

Although the Office of the Registrar’s Web site states that all requests for bookplates must have been in by the last day of classes, May 5, Stewart said her office is changing the due date. This year, students have the option to contact the library after graduation to request their bookplate.

Stewart said the library received some requests for bookplates, but the option has not been a popular among this year’s outgoing class. While some students had never heard of it, others never considered it.

“I don’t think anyone would look me up and find my bookplate, but I’d like to have my name written in the streets,” senior Benjamin Kwendi said.

Senior Terri Hinds said she prefers a brick to a book as well. She added that she likes the idea because she can come back in 20 years and still find her name.

“People notice a brick,” she said. “You don’t notice a book.”

Miller, who handles alumni benefits, said he gets calls and e-mails every week from alumni looking to find their bricks. Interested former students can either contact the Alumni Office or look at the office’s Web site to find out where their name is located.

The bricks from the graduating classes of 1989 through 2001 were laid in Kogan Plaza. Since the 2001 graduating class took the last spots in Kogan, the pavers for the classes of 2002 and 2003 have been placed in University Yard and behind Lisner and Bell halls.

The names of students who graduated in 2004 and 2005 have yet to be put down, but Miller assured that the University will find a “suitable, public place on campus to lay the new bricks.”

It will take roughly a year for the 2005 graduates to be immortalized in brick, and they will be notified by e-mail once the project is completed.

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