OU President David L. Boren announced the gift at the May meeting of the OU Board of Regents. He said the Scholars Walk will be a gift in memory of Edith Kinney Gaylord, who in her own life was committed to the highest standards of excellence. A generous OU donor, Ms. Gaylord established Inasmuch Foundation in 1982.
“The Scholars Walk will add enormously to the beauty of the South Oval,” Boren said. “It will also enhance the environment and student safety. Symbols are important, and one of the walk’s most important aspects will be to emphasize that the academic mission of the University comes first.”
“Inasmuch Foundation is pleased to support this major beautification project on the South Oval, where the foundation already has made a significant investment in OU’s Gaylord Hall, home of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication,” said Robert J. Ross, president and CEO of Inasmuch Foundation.
The walkway will feature large pavers engraved with the names and class years of all OU undergraduate and graduate students who have been honored with the most prestigious national and international academic scholarships at the University of Oklahoma since its founding in 1890. Included among those outstanding student scholars will be recipients of such national and international scholarships as the Rhodes, Fulbright, Goldwater, Truman, Luce, Udall, Marshall, and Gates Cambridge scholarships, as well as the National Security Education Program Graduate Fellowships and Undergraduate Scholarships.
Currently, there are 136 students who would be honored with the pavers, but pavers will be added each year as new OU students are awarded these prestigious scholarships.
“It is our hope that this recognition of student achievement will inspire new generations of OU students to their own achievements,” Boren said.
The project also will add two sculptures on the Van Vleet Oval, best known as the South Oval, recognizing the most outstanding faculty member of OU's first 50 years and the most outstanding faculty member representing OU’s second 50 years. OU historian David Levy, who is a David Ross Boyd Professor Emeritus of History, will select the two honored professors.
“In this way, the Scholars Walk will recognize outstanding students and outstanding faculty,” Boren said.
The Scholars Walk project, which is scheduled to begin in winter 2013 and be completed in spring 2014, will replace and raise the current street asphalt to form a wide walkway featuring the Scholars' pavers.
Buses and vehicular traffic will be routed on Asp Avenue, and a new turning circle will be added in front of Adams Hall with a bus and shuttle drop-off area. The Scholars Walk will connect with the existing Brooks Pedestrian Mall and give OU a true pedestrian campus environment. It also will spare pedestrians the impact of bus fumes and vehicular noise.
The beautifully landscaped Van Vleet Oval, the center of academic student life on OU’s Norman campus, is surrounded by many of OU’s most heavily utilized classroom buildings, many of which have been built or renovated in the past 17 years.