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On Sixth-Annual Scots Day of Giving, Monmouth College Community Celebrates Its Ties to Tartan

 April 6 was a day for Monmouth College to celebrate traditions, giving and the tradition of giving.

During Monmouth’s sixth annual Scots Day of Giving, more than 800 alumni and friends of the College from around the nation — as well as students, faculty and staff on campus — combined to contribute more than $232,000 to support students and student programming.

In addition to gifts to the Monmouth Fund, gifts were also made to support: the Champion Miller 1860 Fund, which supports the College’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; the Scots Care Fund, which helps students with emergency-related expenses; the Fighting Scots Society, which supports the College’s athletics programs; and the senior class gift, whose goal is to commission a mural on the Stockdale Center.

The date coincided with National Tartan Day, and one of the Facebook Live events from the day featured College Historian and Editor Jeff Rankin describing Monmouth’s longtime association with tartan.

Rankin was also a participant at another historian’s dream — the opening, after 20 years, of a time capsule that was placed in Bowers Hall by its first student residents from the 2001-02 academic year.

The residence hall, which started a building boom on the west side of Monmouth’s campus, was made possible two decades ago by a naming gift from former chair of the Board of Trustees David Bowers ’60.

Hands-on history

Among those joining Rankin as a speaker at the time capsule opening was Bowers head resident Nyasaina Kwamboka ’22 of Nairobi, Kenya, who added a few items for the next opening of the capsule, and President Clarence R. Wyatt, a former history professor.

“The hands-on part of this is really powerful,” Wyatt told Facebook Live emcee Hannah Maher, who serves as Monmouth’s vice president for development and college relations. “You get to see what people thought was important at the time, and what they thought was quirky.”

An example of both, perhaps, was a copy of People magazine, with a cover story on the “25 Most Intriguing People of 2001.” One of those on the list was then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Also found in the time capsule was a Bowers Hall T-shirt, which referred to the $600 upcharge in room and board to live there at the time, and a group photo of many of that year’s residents. Former staff member Kenny Morris ’00 served as the hall manager that year and has since returned to campus several times as a guest speaker and mentor.

Other items were a photo album and several copies of the College student newspaper, The Courier, including one with a headline about a gift from Board of Trustees member Walter Huff ’56. The largest contribution made to Monmouth at the time, it served as the naming gift for the Huff Athletic Center, which was built across The Quad from Bowers Hall in 2003.

Scots Day of Giving is distinguished by the coming together of hundreds of donors from Scots Nation. It had Director of Alumni Engagement Jen Armstrong smiling at the end of her 18-hour and 53-minute day – a nod to the College’s founding in 1853.

“Tartan is our symbol of tradition, strength and resilience,” said Armstrong. “We are so grateful to be able to celebrate together for 18 hours and 53 minutes. A diverse group of students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni supported Monmouth College in remarkable ways.”

The day’s final Facebook Live event was a happy hour celebration at Market Alley Wines in downtown Monmouth. Those tuning in learned from the shop’s owner, Sarah Walters, how to make a Red Tartan cocktail. Also known as the Blood & Sand, the concoction includes scotch, orange juice, cherry liqueur, sweet vermouth, lime juice, simple syrup and bitters.

“Cheers to you, Fighting Scots!” said Walters, as she raised her creation to the camera.

Tartan Up!

Tartan was certainly a theme for Scots Day of Giving, which started at 5 p.m. with another Monmouth tradition – the live playing of bagpipes. A few hours later, Rankin spoke about how tartan came to Monmouth and how it’s changed over time.

“After Harold Hermann ’27 became the College’s first alumni secretary after his graduation, he instituted a campaign for the athletic teams to be named the Fighting Scots,” said Rankin. “This was immediately embraced by students and alumni, so he decided that additional Scottish traditions should be immediately adopted,” including the use of tartan.

“The red-and-white tartan of the Menzies Clan was the obvious choice,” said Rankin. “It was used in band uniforms and, beginning in 1935, was used in the freshman caps.”

Rankin said that when Sue Huseman became College president in 1994, one of her priorities was to resurrect College traditions, some of which had faded into the background.

“It was decided that a fresh new tartan would help raise interest,” he said. “We worked with Lochcarron of Scotland, the premier tartan weaving company, to design a custom tartan that made use of the old red and white, but with black introduced to add contrast. That tartan was registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans. It is considered our modern tartan, while the Menzies is our ancient colors.”

***Report Courtesy of Monmouth College***