Senior class steps up for gift toward new outdoor seating area

New deck outside the Student Recreation Center to feature Legacy Walkway
Diane Cornell

When you are walking by the Student Recreation Center this semester, don’t forget to look down. Graduating seniors, along with family members and friends, have chosen to leave their mark on the University through a walkway of personalized engraved bricks.

The Class of 2019 Legacy Walkway is this year's senior class gift. When completed, the walkway will be located in front of the SRC Atrium and next to an outdoor deck, one of two new outdoor seating areas opening soon on campus. The other area is a patio outside Sweigart Hall.

Both areas, built with support from Gourmet Dining, will provide seating for around 20 people and have charging stations, Wi-Fi availability and lighting. Construction should be completed by the start of the spring semester, weather permitting.

“Both areas will provide additional space for faculty, staff, students and alumni to interact," says Mike Reca, vice president for facilities and university operations, who adds that the walkway will be initially constructed with a mixture of plain and engraved bricks. "The plain bricks will be removed and replaced with legacy bricks as they are ordered."

So far, those who have contributed to the Senior Class Gift Campaign have come up with lots of creative, touching and funny ways to be remembered.

Mixed among the Greek letters of fraternities and sororities, and references to athletics (Go Broncs!), you can find congratulations from loving parents (So Proud of You, Dream Big), memorials to loved ones who died, and a nod to Dr. Seuss: (“Oh, the Places You’ll Go”).

Along with some parting advice to incoming and current students, “Be Uncomfortable, Push Yourself, You Set the Bar,” and “Who Holds Your Future? Look in The Mirror!!!” expressions on the bricks also include phrases with a bit of sass (and a nod to Ariana Grande): “Thank you, Next.”

Others have gone with the inspirational: “One Man Can Make a Difference” and “Follow your Passion, Live Boldly, Believe.”

Liz O’Hara, a sophomore computer science and graphic design dual major, was one of many students to contribute to the project. “I bought the brick as a gift to my older siblings who all graduated from Rider,” she says. Her engraved brick commemorates each of their class years (O’Hara Family ’11, ’12, ’16, ’17, ’22).

“My family has been a part of the Rider community since my oldest sister, Lauren, decided to come for accounting. Once my other siblings (Mary, Kevin and Daniel) and then I followed suit, it was clear that this University had become like our home away from home.” With such a deep connection to Rider, she says she likes that the project “allows our family to be a part of campus permanently.”

The Class Gift Campaign offers an opportunity for members of the graduating class to work together to leave their legacy on Rider’s campus. In the past, students have elected to support scholarships or campus projects like the fire pit on the Bart Luedeke Center patio (Class of 2017), the information kiosk (a combined gift from the Classes of 2010 and 2011) and the Rider Rock (Class of 2006).

Participation in this year’s project has been high, says Andrea N. Jarvis, associate director of annual giving and young alumni engagement in University Advancement. As of last December, $7,630 had been raised for the project. Jarvis says contributions are still being accepted, and anyone — seniors, underclassmen, family, friends and staff — can contribute. To make a gift to the Senior Class Gift Campaign, go to A gift of $75 or more allows you to leave a message of support for students to see as they prepare to make their way into the world beyond Rider.

Olivia Battinelli, president of this year’s senior class, says that the idea of a Legacy Walkway appeals to a wide range of her classmates. "I think the reason why the senior class gift has resonated so well with everybody is that it allows those who make a gift to leave a little piece of themselves at Rider," she says. "It will become a lasting legacy to their college experience."