Manchester University
Oak Leaves

October 18, 2019


Professor Beate Gilliar tried to cover the damaged walls with canvases she painted herself. She expressed how she felt somewhere between “irked and hurt.”

Photos by Noah Tong

ACEN Walls Damaged After Dedication Signs Removed

Erica Mohr

Walking past Sisters, abuzz with life and energy, and turning right, down the first floor hallway, leads to a noticeable change in the atmosphere. What was once lively and bustling with noise from tour groups, has turned into a ghost town of bare, even damaged walls and empty bulletin boards.

One of the things one’s eyes are immediately drawn to are two small art canvases where the room dedication signs used to be. The canvases are painted cheerfully with a variety of colors, yet vestiges of destruction peek out from beneath them.

Specifically, the cream paint of the wall behind the canvases has been ripped off, leaving behind  a wall that looks like an open wound, like it was torn to shreds by the claws of a wild animal, or vandalized. These ripped-up walls appear on the two ACEN hallways, including the one by the Registrar’s office and the Oak Leaves’ office.

The mystery of the missing room dedication signs was quickly solved by JoHanna Young, director of advancement services.  “The signs that were out there were because a donor paid a significant amount of money to name that room, that space,” Young said. “But it wasn’t necessarily that physical space; it was what was happening in that space.” Young explained how if a business professor’s office moved to the Chinworth Center, then the dedication plaque was to move with them.

The removal of the plaques came as a surprise to some professors. “I was shocked when I first saw it,” Beate Gilliar, professor of English, said.

Katharine Ings, department chair and professor of English, agreed. “Some of my colleagues and I were alarmed when we saw the state of the walls outside of the ACEN classrooms and former offices,” she said. “We were disappointed that the walls were left in that condition.”

Young explained the quick removal. “They just needed to get them moved in time for the Homecoming dedication,” she said. “So that’s why they were kind of quickly removed.” 

The real discrepancy does not seem to be with why the signs were removed, but of the way they were removed. “Seeing those plaques removed as they were, ripped at a vein of understanding,” Gilliar said. “The immediate reaction was, how could anybody rip those off? It felt disrespectful to those whose names were dedicated and for those persons who reside in those offices. This is what a building looks like when you take out the soul.”

Indeed, some faculty feel that this is not an isolated incident. The ripped-up ACEN hallway might be seen as a metaphor for how the Humanities departments have become increasingly overlooked more often in recent years. The damaged walls were the cherry on the cake.  For instance, tour groups of prospective students used to go up and down the first-floor hallways of ACEN, waving at professors and seeing all their offices. However, now  the ACEN foyer is a thoroughfare on the way to Science and Chinworth.

“There’s a feeling that the ACEN has been abandoned somewhat,” Ings said. “This used to be the crown jewel on tours and suddenly the groups have moved on.”

Gilliar agrees. “This is the hallway that was most traveled on campus and that no longer is the case,” she said. “I long for those times when we were apparently a little more important, just by the fact that we hardly meet any prospective students and their parents anymore.