Posted by: Andrea Alexander | June 23, 2013

Ringing the Old Queens Bell Will Mark a Historic Day at Rutgers

The Old Queens Bell donated by Colonel Henry Rutgers in 1826.

The Old Queens Bell donated by Colonel Henry Rutgers in 1826.

On July 1, the Old Queens Bell will sound to mark a historic event for higher education in New Jersey – the integration of Rutgers with most of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Ringing the Old Queens Bell is an honored tradition reserved to mark significant events at Rutgers. The first day of integration will join moments in the university’s history that have included the 200th anniversary of Old Queens in 2009 – the oldest building at Rutgers – when the bell sounded 200 times. On the first anniversary of 9/11, the bell rung 37 times to honor the 37 people with ties to Rutgers who died in the terrorist attacks. A New Year’s Eve ringing of the bell also marked the start of the bicentennial year of the university in 1966.

“It is certainly appropriate that the bell should be rung for integration,’’ said Matt Weismantel, a senior director of University Relations. “It is one of the major moments in the life of the university.’’

The Old Queens Bell is a celebrated icon of the university’s history. The bell was a gift from Colonel Henry Rutgers in 1826, along with his donation of a $5,000 bond, which kept the then struggling school open. As a show of gratitude, the University was named in the colonel’s honor.

Before the university expanded beyond the Old Queens campus, the bell was rung to signal daily worship and the change of classes. But as the university’s footprint grew, the ringing of the bell took on new meaning and was reserved to mark significant occasions.

Over the decades ringing of the bell has celebrated the Rutgers women’s basketball team’s appearance in the NCAA Final Four, and two undefeated football seasons in 1961 and 1976. The bell is also rung every year to mark commencement, welcome first-year students at the new student convocation and on Rutgers Day, the annual celebration of all things Rutgers.

On July 1, bell ringers will include students from both Rutgers and the former University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. “This event can not take place without the sound of the Old Queens Bell ringing in excitement and anticipation of our newly expanded vision of the future,” Weismantel said.

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