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Western College Legacy Circle

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In the past eight years, Miami University has dedicated itself to the renovations across the Oxford campus, with noticeable changes especially on Western campus. There have been extensive interior renovations to dorms, the addition of Western Dining Hall, and the continued landscaping. Located in the center of the evolving Western Campus is the public artwork Western College Legacy Circle located behind Patterson Place and across from Stonebridge Hall on Western Drive. The compass-inspired memorial speaks to the legacy of the Western College for Women that was absorbed into Miami University in 1974, and also serves to uphold the history of Miami to current and prospective students.

The monument was funded by alumni donations managed through the Western College Alumnae Association (WCAA), which will be absorbed into the Miami University Alumni Association in 2024. The largest single donation was gifted by alumni Marjorie Lloyd Liggett (Class of 1939) and her husband, whose names are at the front of the entrance to the sculpture. An experiential piece, the sculpture envelopes the viewers into the compass design, where the history of Western College and the names of donors and alumni are etched into the stone of the piece. Large donors have their names carved into the sides of the compass and at the entrance, and smaller donors have their names engraved on the bricks that line the path leading up to and around the sculpture.

Robert Keller, Miami University architect emeritus, designed the three-dimensional compass to signify the inclusion of international students and faculty onto the Western College for Women’s campus in 60’s and 70’s, a population which had not been included in the school’s demographic prior to then. The compass is built around the Western Seal, and also has plaques of the Western Seals on either side of the entrance leading to the interior of the piece. This 3D sculpture gives the viewer a choice of observing from afar, or interacting with it by walking inside and around it. The inclusion of seating along the sides of the compass encourage viewer interaction with the piece, whether it serves as a brief rest stop or a prolonged study spot. In this way Keller’s hope is that it simultaneously operates as a functional and interactive commemorative artwork.

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Standing at the heart of Western campus, this memorial commemorates the past, present, and future of Miami University. The past is represented in the seal of Western College and its history etched onto the outside of the compass. It is also referenced in the compass design, which symbolizes the opening of campus to international students and faculty. Aligning with President Crawford’s recent vow to continue diversifying the demographics, this memorial comes at a critical moment when women and international students are now more fully acknowledged and appreciated on Miami University’s campus. The Western College Legacy Circle is also the university’s promise to uphold those same values to the future generations of Miami students, staff and faculty.