Western clock tower approaches ten year mark with bells and lights


Almost ten years ago at the center of the Missouri Western campus, a project began which left the school with its very own monument.

Clock Tower

A 73-foot tall clock tower was raised and named in the memory of Glenn Marion, a former member of the Missouri Western faculty, who passed away in 1996. The monolith expended $270,000 to erect what most students have now already worked into their mindscape to mark the identity of Missouri Western State University.

Many students rush to class hearing the chiming songs being played by the tower without ever giving much thought to the sounds they are hearing, but the process to bring sound and song along with timeliness is actually quite complex.

Richard Leahy was quite familiar of the internal workings of the clock.

“The sound system includes four 60 watt speakers above the clock face, one 400 watt amplifier in the tower and one control console in Agenstein Hall,” Leahy said. The control console contains five internal albums and one external chip slot. The five internal albums are Songs for Sunny Days, Songs for Cloudy or Windy Days, Songs for Rainy Days, Songs for Christmas, and Patriotic Songs. Each album has 12 songs that play in order.

Besides reminding students to scurry off to class, the tower has become a symbol of the steadfastness of Missouri Western. There have been few complications around the tower since its decade of erection. Lonnie Johnson, director of the physical plant, noted the few problems the tower has experienced have mostly been in real of routine.

“There have been normal maintenance issues and an occasional problems due to lightning,” Johnson said. “Some of the concrete around the base of the tower had to be replaced due to cracking.”

The most complex part of the tower’s history was in its construction.

“Designing the footings and foundations was a challenge due to the wet nature of the location,” Johnson said.

With the problems of upkeep and the costs of construction many students might wonder if the expense was worth it. Dan Nicoson, vice president of University Advancement, certainly thinks so.

“Absolutely, the Marion Clock Tower was a wonderful addition to western’s campus,” Nicoson said. “It is a well- recognized landmark and provides a colligate atmosphere.”

Most well know universities have one to four landmarks that well recognized by alumni and other constituents of the university.

Clock Tower

The clock tower is Western’s first. I hope that the University Plaza, which is now under construction, will be a second as time goes on.

But is a landmark that important to the psyche of the average student? Drew Newhart, Western sophomore, would not think so.

“Not really,” Newhart said. “I think our campus could be known for its clock tower, I mean you look around and see pictures of it , there are commercial with the clock tower, I guess people might know the campus for the clock tower.” So maybe the tower has made its mark after all.

“I have been at Western less than three years and I recall that when I came to interview in 2004, the clock tower caught my attention from I-29 and again as we drove on to the campus for the first time,” Nicoson said. “It represented a positive collegiate image that was impressive. It gives a sense of class, quality and stability.”

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