Chapter Five: 1987–1988 73
with their stately beauty and capacious shade since 1956. Grounds crews had made
a stubborn effort to save them, but sixteen of the original trees had succumbed to
Dutch elm disease. On November 23, a memorial service was held in front of Wait
Chapel. The President as well as members of the student body spoke. When everyone
returned after Thanksgiving break, the quad was bare; two elms were left standing in
front of Wait Chapel. Autumn purple ash saplings were planted in their place, and the
quad looked rather as it had when students first arrived in the fall of 1956 and the
elms were saplings. With the help of J. Smith Young (’39), President of Dixie Furni-
ture of Lexington, wood from the plaza elms was salvaged, dried in a kiln, and made
into mementos.
At commencement, President Hearn’s charge to the graduating class was entitled
Trees of ’88 Are Symbolic. He reminded graduates of the fleeting nature of trees and
life.
These elms, like all gifts of beauty and love, were for a season. Our task, the
human task, is to accept with gratitude the legacy of beauty, truth, and good-
ness others have created for us, while we turn to the task of creating new monu-
ments of mind, heart, and hand. We plant for those who in future years will
sit beneath the shelter of these young trees, as our forebears gave the elms in
promise for us whom they did not know. Thus did they and do we now fulfill
our motto: Pro Humanitate. . . . These new trees are a symbol of . . . commenc-
ing, and it is well therefore that you graduates are placed among these sapling
ashes—all of you and the trees portending growth and opportunity.
Other internal matters ranged from the quiet announcement that the Z. Smith
Reynolds Library’s collection had passed one million volumes to the disclosure
in a January 13 memo from the President to faculty, staff, and University friends
Elm trees cut down
New ash trees waiting to be
planted
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