UNA celebrates Laura Harrison fountain

The Laura Harrison Fountain has been part of UNA’s campus since 2002. The Student Government Association is hosting a fountain lighting ceremony March 21 at 7 p.m. Donald and Laura Harrison, who donated the funds for the fountain, will be there to turn on the fountain’s lights and water.

The Student Government Association is hosting the first celebration of one of UNA’s most famous landmarks: The fountain.

The event begins at 7 p.m. March 21.

“We just automatically assume that the fountain is going to go turn on at a certain point in time,” said SGA President Nick Lang. “Instead of just turning it on one random day, let’s make it something where the students go to and celebrate.”

Dr. Donald and Laura Harrison donated the funds for the fountain. The university dedicated the fountain Oct. 21, 2002, according to the Office of Alumni Relations.

Laura Harrison is part of UNA’s class of 1955 and was named the Alumni of the Year in 2005.

“(Laura) Harrison, in particular, has always had a strong connection and affinity for UNA,” said Vice President for Student Affairs David Shields. “It’s always been a place that she loved, and her husband has come to love it as well. Both have been wonderful supporters of UNA for a long time.”

The Harrisons will be present at the event to turn on the lights and fountain, Lang said.

“When we started planning this event, we thought it’d be great to have (the Harrisons) there for the very first one because they did contribute the funds to build the fountain,” Lang said.

“Any time you can show (the students) someone who contributes funds for (their use) what that does for the students, that’s super important. We have a lot of contributors that give to the university. If we don’t have those special benefactors that help make it possible, I don’t think we would have near the campus we have today.”

Shields said he and Lang are working with the Departments of Grounds Maintenance and Facilities Administration and Planning to create a remote device that will activate the lights and water in the fountain. He said it should be similar to the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York City.

Several speakers will talk about the fountain and its legacy at UNA, Shields said. The Harrisons might share a few thoughts, too.

“We want to introduce (the Harrisons), and we want to thank them for the fountain, which has become such a wonderful place,” Shields said.

The fountain has served as a major campus landmark, meeting place and photo opportunity since it arrived.

“I think the fountain has always been here, but I think in the last several years, the fountain has become the centerpiece, center point on campus,” Shields said. “The fountain has really become an iconic image for the university.”

The university and SGA have hosted multiple events around the fountain over the past few years, Lang said.

SGA introduced the “Lucky Dip” in fall 2014. Students dip their pencils in the fountain for good grades and a 4.0 at the end of the semester, Lang said.

Lang said he thinks this event can become an event to celebrate the spring semester like the Lucky Dip celebrates fall.

“In the spring, (the fountain lighting) can be something that the administration and SGA does to celebrate another semester,” he said.

For sophomore Meredith Lorge, the fountain is one of the reasons she is proud to attend UNA, she said.

“The fountain is one of the iconic symbols of the University of North Alabama,” Lorge said. “When you are told about the campus, people never forget to mention the beautiful campus which includes the fountain, lions and other scenery.”

There will be refreshments, light music by former Miss UNA Rachel Wammack and a free item for the first 100 students, Lang said.

Shields and Lang both said they hope the fountain lighting will become a campus tradition.