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Oct. 20, 2014
By Alexandra Mortallaro, media relations assistant
See more images of the Joyce and Harvey White International Plaza and the annual flag-raising ceremony by clicking here.
The Joyce and Harvey White International Plaza has existed on the Northwest Missouri State University campus since the fall of 1998 as a tribute to Northwest students and alumni who have come to the University from other nations and as a reminder of the size and diversity of our world.
As Northwest celebrated its 17th Annual International Flag-Raising Ceremony Friday, the flag plaza’s development was not lost on two alumni who played key roles in shaping it.
Last fall, James Moore Jr. and Shelli Dillon Moore, along with Northwest alumni and staff members Mike and Kenna Miller Johnson, agreed to sponsor the last of the Flag Plaza’s 54 flag poles, each of which are sponsored by donors and alumni. James Moore Jr., is a 1988 graduate of Northwest and served the Northwest Foundation as its director of development from 1995 through 1999, helping to conceive the design for the Flag Plaza and raise funds for the project. Shelli Moore is a 1991 graduate of Northwest; Mike Johnson received his bachelor's degree from Northwest in 1985, and Kenna Johnson completed degrees in 1984 and 1987.
“Looking out at this plaza and the beautiful display of nations and people that these flags represent makes me very proud to be a Northwest Missouri State University alumnus,” Moore said Friday as a guest speaker during the flag-raising ceremony. “It’s hard to believe all of this started 17 years ago, and it’s truly gratifying to see that the Joyce and Harvey White International Plaza remains a very important place on our campus.”
Today, Moore is the president and chief executive officer of the University of Arizona Foundation, a comprehensive development program that generates more than $120 million annually in private funding for The University of Arizona. Previously, he also served in fundraising and development with the University of Northern Colorado Foundation.
“While I’m very proud to have played a small role in the establishment of this plaza, I’m more proud of the way the University has embraced the responsibility to prepare our students for success in a global community,” Moore said.
In the 1990s, when then-Northwest President Dr. Dean Hubbard was interested in further beautifying the campus and recognizing the University’s growing international population, the idea for the Flag Plaza grew out of conversations involving Hubbard and Moore. At that time, the Kissing Bridge was in need of a restoration and the area surrounding Colden Pond needed improvements. Moore sketched a layout for the flag plaza and the University community soon made the idea a reality.
The idea for the adjoining Friends Wall was proposed to serve as a lasting card-of-thanks to all who supported the flag plaza project, especially to Northwest 1951 alumna Joyce (Smith) White and Harvey White, who presented the flag plaza to Hubbard as a gift. The granite Friends Wall, located prominently at the south entrance of the Flag Plaza, features five clocks indicating the time in Maryville and four international time zones.
“The wall was a great way to give perspective to the world on a daily basis and recognize that life is going on here but it’s going on other places in the world as well,” Moore said.
That’s where Mark Eighmy, a fourth generation monument engraver and 1972 Northwest graduate, came in. Eighmy has inscribed all of the names on the Friends Wall.
Last fall, Eighmy inscribed the last name, acknowledging Philip J. Patterson’s gift in honor of his daughter Claire M. Patterson, a 2011 and 2013 Northwest graduate, and the family’s sponsorship of Ireland. Philip Patterson is a 1974 and 1978 graduate of Northwest.
“When I was asked to be involved in the new Flag Plaza I jumped at the opportunity,” Eighmy said. “This was a terrific chance to return to the Northwest campus and work on a project that would leave a lasting impression.”
After graduating from Northwest, Eighmy spent 18 years teaching industrial arts while engraving monuments part-time. He quit teaching in 1990 to go into business full-time and be involved in larger projects.
Eigmy’s wife, Carol, also a 1972 Northwest graduate, works with him, maintaining business records and customer communications for the couple’s lettering and design business. The couple visits Northwest annually before Homecoming to ensure the integrity of the wall.
“During the entire process of designing, planning and engraving I was impressed with the tremendous amount of interest in the flag plaza,” Eighmy said. “Being able to recognize the loyal supporters of what the International Flag Plaza stands for was very satisfying. Each time I returned to the plaza to add more names I continued to be impressed.”
In 1998, 117 international students participated in the first flag-raising ceremony during Homecoming weekend. Today, Northwest’s international population consists of more than 700 students, representing 31 countries.
Even when thousands of miles from home, international students and alumni at Northwest can find comfort in seeing their flags flying on campus.
“As always, the message created by the founding group of visionaries in the late ’90s and carried forward today by Dr. Jasinski and the entire faculty and staff is that international students are not foreign exchange students,” said Dr. Jeffrey Foot, director of international affairs at Northwest. “International students are not visiting, they are at home here as much as any student would be. The International Plaza welcomes all of us who call Northwest home and in doing so proclaims all of us are international Bearcats.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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