National Pan-Hellenic Garden to open

Construction continues on the National Pan-Hellenic Council Garden as its 1:30 p.m. Saturday unveiling approaches. The garden is located near the tennis courts and Marrs McLean Gymnasium.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Grace Gaddy

Anyone walking through Fountain Mall lately may have noticed the tall green fences blocking off a construction site wedged near the tennis courts and Marrs McLean Gymnasium. This weekend that barrier will vanish and observers can view Baylor’s National Pan-Hellenic Council Garden for the first time, a project four years in the making.

The council, in conjunction with the Division of Student Life, will hold a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting on-site at 1:30 p.m. Saturday that is open to the public. Tours will be available starting at 2:30 p.m.

Astrid Beltran, coordinator for Greek Life and Chapter Development, said the purpose of the garden is to celebrate the historical heritage of the NPHC International Greek Letter organizations on campus, as well as to recognize their contributions to Baylor and the greater Waco community.

Seven 3-by-1 granite monuments, each representing one of the seven NPHC chapters active on Baylor’s campus, will stand facing each other parallel to a walkway.

The stones will include an engraving of each sorority and fraternity’s signature crest, its national and local founding dates and the founders and charter members.

There will also be an eighth monument paying tribute to Baylor, Beltran said.

Arlington senior Carrington Franklin, publicity chair for Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, said she hopes the garden will promote a sense of unity among campus organizations while reflecting Baylor’s commitment to traditions and Greek Life.

“There’s never been anything like this before on Baylor’s campus,” Franklin said. “We’re honoring the diversity that’s emerging over this campus and the heritage of where it came from.”

Spring senior Leah Lewis, NPHC president, echoed Carrington’s thoughts, saying this was the “first monument devoted to a multicultural organization.”

In addition to lending a luscious new area to Baylor’s landscape, the garden will allow for a unique educational experience, Beltran said.

“A lot of people don’t realize that most of these organizations are over 100 years old,” Beltran said.

Complementing that history, the monuments are arranged according to their national founding date; the first one was established in 1906.

“This is a place where people can have a quiet space — a space where they can interact with others as well — and just learn more about the organizations,” Beltran said.

Franklin said she is excited to see the garden finally come to life.

When Baylor’s NPHC executive board proposed the idea for the garden in March 2007, the Division of Student Life and Baylor administration worked with the students to make their vision a reality.

“It truly has been a partnership of administrators and students on this project for the past four years,” Beltran said.

Franklin said she imagines the garden will impart a sense of serenity to students, making it a great place to study or take a break.

Tables and chairs will be set up for students’ use and outlets will be available to plug in laptops, Beltran said.

Located next to Fountain Mall, Beltran added that the garden would really “pop.”

“It’s really going to look good,” she said.