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Mortar Board at Ohio State University

The Mortar Board Centennial Suite in the Thompson Library

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Mortar Board Court
Mortar Board Court was a gift to The Ohio State University on the occasion of Mortar Board’s 75th Anniversary. The court was dedicated October 14, 1989. President Edward Jennings helped cut the ribbon.

The Court is situated between Weigel Hall and the Wexner Center for the Arts, near College Road. The brick circle includes Mortar Board symbols and our motto. In the center of the circle is a plaque with the inspirational Mortar Board poem “The Torch.” 

As part of initiation ceremony, the members gather in the circle and the poem is read aloud.  The court is used by small performing groups from the School of Music who find it a good place to rehearse (and passersby get an unexpected concert).

A Lantern article in 2010 described the “oddly placed steps that slant downward” from the Wexner Center for the Arts and the adjacent plaza. These “steps” face right down the Oval’s Long Walk. They are also a “whispering wall.” Standing in the corner where the steps meet the wall, whisper something to someone on the same row at the other end and they will hear you. This phenomenon has been widely reported. What is lesser known, but reported by the Lantern, is that when visitors stand in the center of the Mortar Board Court circle and speak, “they can hear the sound echo in their ears.” Next time you visit, try it out!
The Mortar Board Court at The Ohio State University
The Mortar Board Court at The Ohio State University
Mortar Board Centennial Suite in the Thompson Library

When news broke that William Oxley Thompson Library would close in 2006 to undergo a major multiyear renovation, Mabel Freeman ('65) saw an opportunity for Mortar Board to make a naming gift to the university honoring our upcoming Centennial.

The Council committed to raising the funds to renovate and restore a lovely and unique room in the building.  Our honorary chairs were Albert Kuhn ('88), Gail Harrison Corvette ('80), and John Mount ('81). Under the leadership of Shirley Dunlap Bowser ('56) and Anne Clark Foltz ('54), along with the generosity of 400 Mortar Board alumni and friends around the world, the Council raised more than $300,000 to create the Mortar Board Centennial Suite in the Thompson Library, including the only room in the library with a working fireplace.  Our funds also supported the renovation of an adjacent technology-ready meeting room.  The foyer outside these rooms includes the name of the area and Mortar Board photos.

Since the library's reopening in August 2009, the Reading Room has been a favorite study spot for students, a special location for many University events, and a wonderful place for Mortar Board chapter meetings,

As part of the Centennial Celebration weekend, a donor reception was held in the library’s 11th floor Campus Reading Room.  Representatives of the library leadership expressed gratitude for the remarkable gift.  A leather-bound book listing the names of the donors to the Mortar Board Centennial Suite was presented to the library; copies reside in the room as well as in the University’s Archives and at the Mortar Board National Office.
The Mortar Board Court provides great acoustics for muscians.
The Mortar Board Centennial Suite is a popular study space in the Thompson Library.
Commissioned by Mortar Board, Ian Magargee's art piece entitled, "Acute Configuration" hangs in the Great Hall at the Ohio Union.
Mortar Board Relief Painting in Ohio Union

To celebrate the opening of the new Ohio Union in 2010, the Ohio State Mortar Board Alumni Council commissioned artist and former Ohio State faculty member Ian Magargee to create a piece of art incorporating the unique shape of the mortarboard, an ancient symbol of honor and distinction. Magargee is known for the sculptural qualities of his relief paintings and his expression of geometric shapes.  

“Acute Configuration,” a three-dimensional piece in acrylic on panel, hangs in the Great Hall of the Ohio Union at the entrance to the Performance Hall.
Mortar Board Paver by Mirror Lake

As the story goes, Ohio State's Columbus campus sits where it does because of a small natural spring on the farm of William Neil -- a spring that fed Mirror Lake and would become the location of Buckeye traditions old and new, ephemeral and lasting.  Mirror Lake features prominently in Mortar Board's traditions, so the Alumni Council, with generous support from Council members, was proud to purchase a stone paver in 2018 to assist in the restoration efforts and honor the founding of Mortar Board at Ohio State.  Look for it by the red Adirondack chairs near beautiful Pomerene Hall the next time you visit campus.
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