A new generation

Grad Toast at the Columns

Incoming students gather in Sylvan Grove (click to enlarge).

Incoming students gather in Sylvan Grove (click to enlarge).Katherine B. Turner / UW Admissions

The Class of 2017 Grad Toast is Thursday, June 8 at 6 p.m., and is open to all graduating seniors. All ages welcome. Must register in advance and have valid ID to attend.

A columns tradition

During the spring and summer, when the weather is fair, groups of incoming first-year students gather in front of the four ionic columns that stand in Sylvan Grove. There they hear the story: How the columns, along with the Denny Bell, are all that remains of the original campus near downtown; how legendary professor (and one of the University’s first alumni) Edmond S. Meany and his colleague Herbert T. Condon saved them from the wrecking ball and brought them to campus; how they stood over generations of students and represent a physical symbol of the connection all Huskies have with the University, the alumni who have gone before them and those who will come in the future.

Then—after a Husky cheer—they’re invited to come up and touch each column. Return when you graduate, they’re told, and touch them again. Until then, hands off—no touching. It’s a tradition.

They do. Silently, the newly minted Huskies touch each of the cedar columns (dubbed LIFE by Meany and Condon, for Loyalty, Industry, Faithfulness and Efficiency). Frequently a University administrator will shake their hands as the students come away. Welcome, they say. We’re so glad you’re here. Then the students are off, on to the whirlwind of their undergraduate education.

Now, the UWAA is inviting graduating seniors and UWAA members to formally bring the tradition full circle with a toast at the columns the week before commencement. Together, let’s raise a glass to the newest generation of Huskies as they touch each column and walk away from them as alumni!

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