Community comes together with help from the Steinhart Plaza

The Steinhart Plaza dedication on Oct. 4 at 11 a.m. marked a physical location for the local and global community to come together. The plaza is highlighted by 20 international flags and a memorial garden to Pamela ‘Pam’ Osborne, late mother of board of trustees member Justin Osborne. Members of the Hastings College community came to dedicate the plaza on the same plot of land as the former Steinhart Science building.

The Steinhart Science building stood at the corner of Ninth Street and Elm Avenue before it was torn down in 2014. Dedicated in 1956 as the “science hall,” it was renamed the Morton and Ella S. Steinhart Hall of Science in 1986. Ella Steinhart served on the board of trustees from 1950–1972, helping to raise funds for the namesake building, along with her husband Morton Steinhart. Additionally, their philanthropic donations included improvements to Hazelrigg Student Union and several art scholarships. Mr. and Mrs. Steinhart passed away in 1979 and 1984, respectively.

Following the removal of the Steinhart Science building and several renovations to HSU, there were no spaces on campus to honor the significant contributions they had made.

“Really, there was nothing that was on campus that was named to honor the Steinharts, just a legacy that existed into the buildings that were no longer there. And we felt it was very important to continue to honor that legacy,” said Dr. Robin Koozer, associate vice president of development for the Hastings College Foundation. “… It was a logical thing to do. We named the Steinhart Plaza in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Steinhart.”

Koozer’s contribution to the Steinhart Plaza included the initial conception for the archways, flagpoles and garden. Koozer worked with Calvin “Cal” Johnson, board of trustees member, to make that concept a real structure. Johnson’s family-owned company, Johnson Imperial, built the plaza.

“Cal and I put our heads together, and he’s responsible for the archway and certainly the design of that and his vision. Then I kind of took the ball and ran with it and came up with the garden and the flagpoles,” Koozer said. “… Mr. Johnson, the word is not cooperate, he collaborated on all of it, and it just kind of became a, I think I can use the term, labor of love for both of us.”

The garden serves as a memorial to Pam Osborne, who passed away earlier this year. The garden includes a bell from the first brick school in the city of Hastings. The bell is the largest in Winston Jones’ collection of over 8,000 bells. Jones was a relative of Pam.

“Winston and Pam were very close, and it just seemed logical that we incorporate a bell in that display, in that part of the project,” Koozer said.

During the dedication, Hastings College President Travis Feezell alluded to ringing the bell as a possible tradition for incoming freshman and graduating seniors.

In the garden are 20 flagpoles, the flags representing countries that the college’s international students hail from. Koozer’s original design had 16 flags, based on the number of different countries students represented last year. Four more flags were added this year, and Koozer says there is the capacity to add more.

“The project gives our international students some ownership, and that really is part of their campus when they see that flag. But also, it reminds us of the awareness that Hastings College is a global community, and it reminds us that we are one of many places in the world that can make a change,” Koozer said.

Also in the plaza is a sculpture of a Native American woman. Originally in front of the Daughtery Center, the sculpture was moved to bring in a historic component of HC.

“It just seemed like a very logical place to put it, to tie one more piece of campus and the mission of the college. That sculpture is so symbolic of the Great Plains and our history and the richness of our community in the sense of what was here before Hastings College,” Koozer said.

Finally, the arches tie together the north and south part of campus, which were once separated by Ninth Street. The arches motif is found on the Gray Center and next to Hurley-McDonald on “The Learning Curve” sculpture, donated by Johnson. Arches were also present at the old football field where the Morris-Reeves Science Center is now located.

“I think the significance of the coming and going in the arches is pretty important for the college because in addition when you see those flags, you kind of walk in and … you think ‘Wow, this is bigger than Hastings,’” Koozer said.

The granite slabs that make up the benches in Steinhart Plaza were salvaged from the Steinhart Science building.