Circle of Inspiration dedicated
Pharaoh's Obelisk stands as focal point in Bond Circle.

By Jessica Wortley
Ferris State Torch



The Circle of Inspiration and the Pharaoh's Obelisk, the newest addition to the Michigan Art Walk on Ferris State's campus, was officially dedicated at a ceremony last Wednesday.

Approximately 75 people were in attendance, including Board of Trustees members, emeriti, staff and an art class. Speakers included President William Sederburg, Student Government President Kaci Baars, Professor Phillip Sterling and Trustees Chair Bruce Parsons.

The obelisk is a gift of Ferris Alumnus George Rapanos, a pharmacy graduate, successful businessman and poet. He had been looking for a granite piece to dedicate and honor immigrants, and chose to donate the obelisk to Ferris after purchasing it on eBay in March 2000.

According to the dedication program, the obelisk was featured in a PBS/NOVA special of teams "attempting to solve the mystery of how the people of ancient Egypt erected such colossal structures." After successfully raising the obelisk at the Fletcher Granite Quarry in Massachusetts, NOVA decided to auction off the monument.

The obelisk, 36 feet tall and weighing 30 tons, stands as the centerpiece of the 150-foot circle located between Bond Hall and Center Ice. This location was chosen because the monument requires a 10 to 20 foot cement base underground, and few locations were open enough without pipes and wires interfering. The inspiration circle features granite benches, pedestals inscribed with poetry and nighttime lighting.

Of the ten pedestals surrounding the obelisk, eight will hold plaques featuring poetry of students, alumni, faculty and famous poets. The other two pedestals feature a history of the obelisk and a dedication to Rapanos' parents, who immigrated from Greece in the early 1900's.

According to Sederburg, the circle is to be used for reflection. It is intended to be a place where students, faculty, alumni and community members can sit, think and be inspired by the poetry and obelisk. Anyone is welcome to walk around, sit on the benches and reflect on life.

"Every person has a purpose and mission, and they are drawn in the direction of their destiny," said Rapanos. "Poetry gives meaning to existence. It stirs the spirit and gives awareness of our origins."

His view helps explain the phrase on the dedication plaque describing the obelisk: "Symbolizes the ray of light shining from God to enlighten mankind."

Besides being an inspiration to all who see it, the circle and obelisk represent Ferris' commitment to excellence. Sederburg gave four reasons "why we like our obelisk: it raises our focus and determination, represents the union of technology and art, shows the reflection of history and is the start of beautifying West Campus." The obelisk is the first piece of art to be placed on West Campus.

"It's a wonderful addition to this side of campus," said Professor Don Flickinger. "It shows a move toward encompassment."

Richard Santer, Ferris emeriti, agreed. "It's magnificent, and shows the involvement to make the world a better place, as Mr. Ferris wanted it. It also shows alumni's responsibility of giving back to the university."

Students in attendance also showed much appreciation of the circle and obelisk. Mike Chitpasong, a junior in business, said it was a beautiful addition to campus.

Bill Stansbury, a senior in facilties management stated, "I like it. It's way better than the muddy hole parking lot that used to be there."

In closing the dedication, Sederburg left the crowd with a poem he composed himself to honor the circle and monument: "Roses are red, violets are blue, we love the obelisk, how about you?"

For more information about the Pharaoh's Obelisk visit: www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lostempires/obelisk/raises01.html.