Ringing of the Bell 2020
Each fall, Chowan University's freshman class fills Turner Auditorium for the annual Founders' Day Convocation and Ringing of the Bell Ceremony. This year the pandemic prevented the University from holding the traditional Founders' Day Convocation, but together University personnel worked to ensure that new students had the opportunity to participate in the Ringing of the Bell Ceremony.
Traditionally after Convocation, faculty and staff line, the alumni walk leading to the Kerr Gazebo where the University bell is housed. The freshmen class then files out of the auditorium, down the sidewalk to the alumni walk where they are cheered on as they approach the gazebo to ring the bell to signify the beginning of their academic journey.
On Wednesday, September 16th, the Ringing of the Bell Ceremony took place. Prior to the ceremony, Rob Buller, Assistant Professor of Art, rang the University bell five times in memory of Professor Amin Rudaina Khalil who passed away this month. The distinguished Associate Professor of Graphic Design had started his fifth semester at Chowan University.
Faculty and staff who normally line the alumni walk leading to the gazebo were masked barring, lining the sidewalk at a six feet distance, stretched from the gazebo, down the sidewalk in front of the McDowell Columns Building, up the Squirrel Park walkway, almost to the University Arch on the Promenade.
To begin their journey, students were greeted by Provost Dr. Moore, and Registrar Richard Todd, who gave each student a glove to wear as they rang the bell. The students then proceeded down the park to the gazebo as faculty and staff clapped in encouragement and excitement. Each student approached the gazebo having been cheered on by faculty and staff to receive the final encouraging words from President and Mrs. Peterson before ringing the bell.
The Ringing of the Bell Tradition
Located on the west side of the McDowell Columns Building in the gazebo is the Chowan University bell that dates back to the 1800s. "The bell swung from two stone pillars until 1880 when it was placed in the Bell Tower, a favorite meeting place for students. The bell was used to change classes, call students to chapel, and celebrate athletic victories." (Frank Stephenson, Chowan College, 2004)
The tradition of the bell today is to establish a sense of community that begins in the first year and lasts beyond the confines of the four-year university experience. Each September, following University Convocation, faculty in full regalia and first-year students proceed to the gazebo. With faculty lined up on both sides of the brick alumni walk leading to the gazebo, first-year students ring the bell to signify the beginning of their academic studies at Chowan.
The ringing of the bell is repeated again in April of each year, this time by the graduating seniors who pulled the rope four years before. At the close of the Senior Banquet, the faculty and candidates for graduation recess from Thomas Dining Hall to the gazebo. With faculty lined up on both sides of the alumni walk once again, each candidate rings the bell one last time to signify the end of his or her academic studies at Chowan.
Although each ring signifies a different period in a student's life, their messages are founded on the same principle: two chimes per student, both saying "go forth". The first welcomes each freshman into the Hawk community, challenging them to go out and excel among their peers. The second says, "well done, now soar".
View the photos from this year's ceremony on Facebook!