Given the diversity of the Engler College of Business student body, students may not know much about the West Texas A&M University campus, history, and traditions. In each issue of our newsletter, we will highlight some of the locations on campus and WT traditions that make us proud to be Buffs!
The Charles K. and Barbara Kerr Vaughan Pedestrian Mall, located in the center of the West Texas A&M University campus, is a great place for student gatherings, outdoor functions and activities. Completed and dedicated at Homecoming 2007, the pedestrian mall is located directly north of Old Main where Wisdom Road and University Drive would intersect. These cross streets between Old Main, the Graduate School and the Jack B. Kelley Student Center are gone. In their place, the beautiful pedestrian mall features many green spaces and a few prominent WT landmarks. Two in particular, the “Original Texans” sculpture and Spirit Rock, are student favorites for campus photos.
The “Original Texans” Sculpture
This is a larger-than-life brown marble sculpture of a buffalo and calf by artist Doug Scott of New Mexico. It is 9 feet high x 13 feet long and was sculpted from a block of marble weighing 72,000 pounds. The original block was quarried in New Mexico and the majority of the sculpting occurred over the course of a year before being moved to it’s new home in Canyon, TX. The “Original Texans” sculpture sits prominently along Buffalo Walk north of Old Main and is encased in a cascading water feature.
The following appeared in the June 2015 WTAMU Alumni Association eNewsletter and has been updated to reflect current timelines.
This huge rock, located in a flowerbed on the Vaughan Pedestrian Mall between Old Main and the Hayward Clock Tower, offers those who talk while sitting or standing on its surface quite a memorable experience. For some reason, people sitting on the rock hear a surround-sound quality to their voice. It was discovered by Larry Bedwell ’95, grounds manager, almost eight years ago.
Before the rock, grounds tried planting one tree after another in the flowerbed, but the trees kept dying. After the last and final dead tree was removed, Bedwell and his crew discovered that while standing in the hole that their voices had an amplified or echo quality. And once the rock was placed in the bed, Bedwell found that the sound of his voice still had that same quality.
“We started calling it the Spirit Rock, and it echoes so it really is a spirit rock,” Bedwell said.
He shared the information about Spirit Rock with the director of admissions and since then, the rock has been part of every campus tour.
Dr. David Craig, associate professor of physics, wasn’t aware of the Spirit Rock, but agreed to investigate the mysterious surround sound at the site. He found multiple half circles surrounding the rock—a round flowerbed and semi-circular benches—that bounce the sound back to the ear of the one sitting on the rock to create the surround-sound effect. He also discovered what he called a “whispering gallery.” He explained that if a person sits and bends low to the ground at one end of the long semi-circular bench that surround the flowerbed and whispers, that another person sitting at the other end and bending low can clearly hear what is said. Another amazing occurrence created by all the round surfaces.
It’s not a fluke after all, but more of an acoustical phenomenon thanks to the many circle surfaces surrounding the rock. But for the many who have experienced the Spirit Rock and its surround sound, it’s just pure magic.
For more information about campus traditions visit