DEKALB – Northern Illinois University will remember the lives of five students lost Feb. 14, 2008, with a moment of reflection and the tolling of five bells at 3:06 p.m. Friday.
Although most of today’s students were not on campus the day the five – Gayle Dubowski, Catalina Garcia, Julianna Gehant, Ryanne Mace and Daniel Parmenter – were killed by a gunman in Cole Hall, NIU maintains a commitment to remember them every year, spokesman Paul Palian said.
The sixth annual remembrance will be more subdued than last year, when friends and families of the deceased laid wreaths and flowers next to five marble slabs dedicated to each of the fallen.
A memorial garden, adjacent to Cole Hall, is intended to be a place of peaceful reflection. It consists of a gently-curving walk set in a group of trees with a red granite reflection wall bearing the students’ names and a sculpture centerpiece. Benches are placed opposite the wall to encourage all to pause and remember, Palian said.
“NIU is committed to remembering and honoring the spirit of the cherished Huskies lost that day,” said NIU President Doug Baker, who is spending time with their families before the anniversary. “The bells serve as a reminder of the ‘Forward, Together Forward’ spirit of our students and community as we reflect and honor those lost.”
Kelly Wesener Michael, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said it was a natural transition for the campus’ remembrance of the tragedy.
“A moment of reflection is a way in which NIU can continue its tradition of marking an unforgettable moment in its history, remembering the resiliency of our community and, most importantly, honoring those we lost,” Michael said.
The NIU Scholarship Office also plans to announce the winners of the Forward, Together Forward Scholarship on Feb. 14. The Forward, Together Forward Scholarship Endowment was created through the generosity of more than 1,770 donors to honor the memory and spirit of Dubowski, Garcia, Gehant, Mace and Parmenter.