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University makes memorial bricks to commemorate deceased students

Texas A&M honors deceased students by playing taps. Colorado State University flies its school flag at half-staff for three days. But Florida Gulf Coast University has a more permanent tribute to fallen eagles.

Students who die during their time at Florida Gulf Coast University leave behind memories, loved ones and a single brick with the engraved phrase “In Loving Memory.”

The tradition began in 2005, with Dean Michele Yovanovich.

“When I became the first alumni relations director at FGCU, I started several programs,” Yovanovich said. “One of the programs was the alumni patio brick campaign. When I became the dean of students in 2005, I suggested to Student Government that they purchase a memorial brick for students that pass away.”

When the dean of student’s office learns of a student death, the office notifies SG. Then, the SG secretary writes a resolution for that student. Yovanovich sometimes assists in writing the resolution.

“I often talk with the student’s family and can provide some personal information to SG to make the resolution special,” Yovanovich said. “SG sends a copy of the resolution along with a letter  to the family telling them that SG purchased a brick that they can come back to campus to view.”

Senate recently passed a memorial resolution for Jesse Woodyard, who died at the end of the 2014 spring semester.

Now, Senate secretary Loren Ifcher is able to make a $150 purchase order to send to the Office of Alumni Relations. Alumni Relations receives requests for alumni bricks as well as memorial bricks.

“Most of the time these bricks are for students celebrating their time at FGCU,”  said Gail Bradley,  senior secretary at Alumni Relations. Athletics also allows the purchase of brick paver installations to place in front of Alico Arena. According to Graham Diemer, assistant athletic director for advancement, the athletics brick paver program started as a fundraiser.

“Some head coaches purchase them for athletes that play and graduate with a degree,” Diemer said.

Donors and community members also purchase bricks from FGCU Athletics, and there are some memorial bricks in front of Alico Arenea.

Bradley estimates there are more than 500 engraved alumni bricks installed in front of the Cohen Center. Fewer than 4 percent of those are memorial bricks.

Bradley said the Physical Plant has a stockpile of blank brick pavers. When Alumni Relations receives requests for engraved bricks, Bradley picks up blank bricks from the Physical Plant, and then takes them to the Trophy Center, a local business, to be engraved.

While the bricks are engraved throughout the year, they are only installed on two occasions. The week before the fall and spring commencements, all of the bricks are installed in front of the Cohen Center.

Currently, Ifcher is working on two more memorial resolutions. One is for Alexandra Webb, who died this summer. The other is for Austin Vonckx, who died Sept. 14. The bricks for Woodyard, Webb and Vonckx should be finished in time for the installation this fall.

About The Author

Nina Barbero

Nina Barbero is a senior majoring in economics, and has been writing for Eagle News since her freshman year and enters her senior year as Eagle News' Managing Editor. When she is not in the newsroom, you can probably find her swimming at the beach, trying to talk her way out of overdue book fines at the library or hoping the Giants win at least one game this season.