Cobblestone Campus remembered in RPI History Wall developed in part by VCU Libraries' Special Collections and Archives
April 7, 2017
An RPI History Wall was dedicated Friday, April 7 in the Commons Theater. University Librarian John E. Ulmschneider and student Fred A. Williams Jr., chair of the SGA Activities Programming Board, hosted the event. Edward H. Peeples, Ph.D., a 1957 graduate of RPI and an author and longtime VCU professor, was the featured speaker.
VCU Alumni’s RPI Alumni Council, composed of RPI alumni from the 1950s and 1960s, spearheaded the RPI History Wall, raising funds for the project and working with University Student Commons and Activities and VCU Libraries to construct the exhibit.
University Archivist Jodi Koste was an integral part of the planning process. "The new exhibit is a wonderful opportunity to introduce students to a significant part of the institution's history and legacy," Koste said.
"We enjoyed searching the archives for images to tell the story of RPI as well as hearing about past student experiences from the members of the RPI alumni group involved with the project."
Senior research associate in Special Collections and Archives Ray Bonis added "I was happy to participate. Often times, the history of RPI is overlooked. I see this as an opportunity to let students, faculty, and staff learn about the kinds of materials we have in our university archives and to tell the story of the school. Our involvement in the exhibit included selecting and scanning images for the exhibit to writing and editing the text. The hard work was done by the designer."
The exhibit includes floor-to-ceiling photo display panels that depict the leaders and professors who taught at RPI and built its infrastructure, the students who built their futures on the cobblestone campus and the activities that built the foundation for the VCU of today and tomorrow. Running along the bottom of the exhibit is a representation of the brownstone wall where RPI students gathered.
A parallel wall contains a timeline that illustrates through photos and commentary significant milestones in RPI’s history from its inception in 1917 to its merger in 1968 with the Medical College of Virginia to become VCU.
More than 15,000 students, faculty and visitors will pass between the two walls every day.
“The members of the RPI Council are very pleased to see this project come to fruition,” said Joe Lowenthal, a 1955 RPI graduate and chairman of the council. “It accomplishes a major goal of ours: to ensure that RPI’s role in forming VCU’s bedrock is remembered and memorialized. I am in awe of the great university that VCU has become. RPI was there to help put it all in motion, and I am very proud to be an alumnus and work actively with VCU Alumni.”
A version of this article by Kristen Caldwell was published by VCU News.