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Bell tower

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Elizabeth Stevens
CONTRIBUTOR
DISCLAIMER.THE TOPICS AND ISSUES COVERED IN THIS EDITION ARE NOT REAL NEWS.
… HAPPY APRIL FOOLS DAY.

University of Nebraska at Omaha sophomore, Martin Wilmore, went from receiving the School of Communication’s Top Student award to dropping out of school a few weeks later.

Wilmore was preparing a case study for his media relations course at Criss Library on March 16. He crossed under the bell tower and walked over the face underneath the tower on his way to the Arts and Sciences Hall.

“I planned on getting an “A” on my case study,” Wilmore said. “I spent weeks researching and analyzing different examples.”

After Wilmore submitted his assignment, he went on to enjoy his spring break.

When Wilmore returned to his media relations class, he failed his case study analysis.“My heart literally sank. I’ve never failed an assignment before,” Wilmore said.

Unfortunately for Wilmore, the trend continued. As he went from class to class, he found out he had failed every midterm test and assignment he had done before spring break.

Later that day, he was put on academic probation. Wilmore scheduled an emergency meeting with his advisor, Terry Hale, to discuss his current academic status.

“It seems there was a glitch on blackboard,” Wilmore said. “My grades are actually much worse
than I initially thought. I’m flunking out of school.”

It is hard to believe a student of Wilmore’s caliber is capable of such a drastic academic downfall,” Hale said.
This isn’t the first time a student has mysteriously flunked out of school, Hale said. A similar incident happened to another one of Hale’s advisees in 2006.

“His name was James Herman. He was one of the department’s top graduate students,” Hale said. “Actually, he flunked out shortly after he cracked the bell mosaic under the bell tower.”

The bell tower has been a part of the UNO campus since 1989. After a bad storm, the bell tower had to be renovated a few years later, March 16, 2006—to be exact.

UNO hired Kiewit Construction to repair the damaged tower. After the job was completed, construction worker, James Herman, accidentally dropped heavy building materials on the bell mosaic in the center of the tower. The mistake left a crack down the middle of the face.

At the time, Herman was a part-time graduate student in the communications department. After the incident, Herman left his position at Kiewit, failed his classes and was never seen on campus again.

After Herman’s disappearance, Kiewit Construction sent another worker to repair the crack.

Hale said she made the same suggestion to Wilmore as he did to Herman in 2006. She directed both of them to give up on the communication field and explore other interests.

“The communications field is not for everyone,” Hale said. “I like to think that Herman went on to find his true calling.”

Currently, Wilmore is unsure about his future.

“I still can’t believe it,” Wilmore said. “I think I’m just going to get in my car and drive until I figure everything out.”

There is no evidence that proves a connection between Wilmore and Herman’s experiences with the face under the bell tower. However, there isn’t any concrete evidence that proves the face under the bell tower didn’t impact Wilmore or Herman’s academic state.

“I cannot confirm or deny the bell tower conspiracy,” Hale said. “I will say the bell tower is a university icon. When students respect the status of the tower, nothing bad ever happens.”

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Tressa Eckermann
Contributor

Towering 168 feet about campus, the Henningson Memorial Campanile is ostensibly the most iconic symbol of the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus. Though hundreds of campus-goers walk past it every day, most students would not be able to recognize it by its official name.

The Henningson Memorial Campanile, referred to simply as “the bell tower” in UNO vernacular, has become an integral part of campus legacy.

First proposed in 1987 by the Board of Regents, many believed that there was no need for the bell tower. There was fear that it would remove parking spaces, cause unnecessary campus noise and congest traffic.

Despite these concerns, the bell tower was approved. Aided by a donation from Margre Henningson-Durham and her husband Charles W. Durham, ground for the tower was broken in May of 1988 and bells were ordered to be imported from France.

Fourty-seven bronze bells later, the construction now stands as a unique and defining feature of the UNO campus.

“It’s so unusual to find a real campanile. There are a few in Iowa and one in Lincoln,” said James Jonson, a music professor. “You can see it from so many places in the city, and if you’re in the area, you can hear it. It’s such an icon.”

Johnson, a professor of music and the coordinator of keyboard studies, frequently plays the instrument inside the campanile. Several students who all share an interest in learning to play the instruments play the bells on an electronic keyboard located inside the Performing Arts Center.

“Learning to play the basics of an organ is simple. You use your hands and your feet,” Johnson said.

When he first began teaching music at UNO, one of Johnson’s favorite memories was of Mrs. And Mr. Durham.

“Mrs. Durham used to come to all of my recitals,” Johnson said. “I think Mrs. Durham’s spirit is still in that bell tower.”

Since its completion and public dedication by Mrs. Durham in January 1989, the Henningson Memorial Campanile has become an integral part of UNO’s unique culture.

Over the years, the bell tower has evolved into more than a quick way to figure out what time it is: students use it as a meeting place, a way to share a great joke (like that time the Harry Potter movie theme was played on the bells) and a citywide symbol of our campus.

PHOTO BY ARTHUR NGUYEN
PHOTO BY ARTHUR NGUYEN

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