By MARTY LEVINE
Why are there names carved in bricks along walkways between the Cathedral of Learning and Heinz Chapel?
Those bricks — sorry, pavers — have been quietly honoring two sorts of Pitt seniors for decades: those chosen by the honor society Omicron Delta Kappa and those selected for the Blue-Gold and Panther athletic awards.
ODK began selecting its annual top senior — or two — in 1922, says Richard Fann II, associate director of the Office of Cross Cultural and Leadership Development, which oversees the pavers program. The yearly honoree doesn’t even have to be a member of ODK, he explains; in fact there are no set criteria for their selection. Any Pitt senior attending the Oakland campus can apply, submitting their transcript and an essay about their impact at Pitt, and how they plan to continue that impact after graduation.
There’s only one thing that’ll keep a senior’s name from becoming a horizontal petroglyph: discipline from the student conduct office.
And there are at least another 50 or 60 spots left out there, Fann says.
“The fact that your name is going to be left on the pavement means a lot to these folks,” Fann says. The chosen chiseled have always gotten a certificate to take home, but lately ODK has made sure their name is in place before graduation, so that friends and family can get selfies with the stone.
Travel the Varsity walk and you may notice a few familiar monikers, says E.J. Borghetti, executive associate athletic director for Media Relations. “There are a lot of names that will jump out at you — names like Ditka and Dorsett resonate not only in Pittsburgh but throughout the country,” he says.
In recent years, the athletics department also has held had a ceremony for awardees in April or May to see their stone placed in the walkway. Borghetti sees this spot as a still place amid the Oakland hustle and noise, “something that I can come back to year after year, bring my children and spouse back to it. That’s a goose-bump moment for sure.”
“There’s a fine cross-section of honorees that represent all of our sports,” he points out, from volleyball and swimming and diving to track and field and wrestling, although football remains prominent. “I look at the Varsity Walk as one of the great traditions in all of varsity athletics. Nothing is forever, but having your name in stone is about as close as it gets.”
Of course, we’ll all get to that name-on-stone moment eventually. It’s just nice that Pitt does it for happier reasons.
Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-758-4859.
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