Walking around University of Houston’s main campus, it’s clear there are some major renovations underway. The completion of the new university center, or UC, is being anxiously anticipated by many UH students and faculty. But what they might not all know is the new university center will also be home to a 9/11 memorial. The memorial will house one of the twin tower’s beams recovered from “ground zero”. Keith Kowalka, the Vice president for student affairs at the university, says that UH is one of the two sites in Texas chosen to display this artifact.
“Phase one of the UC project will open in January 2014, so it looks like there’s going to be, or there will be, a ribbon cutting ceremony the first week of school. The following week, I think on teacher Wednesday will be an actual dedication ceremony for the World Trade Center Artifact. We’re working with the Army ROTC, and the Air Force ROTC.”
So why is the new university center the best place for the artifact and memorial? Kowalka explains that it will help bring the campus closer together.
“I think it’s neat that the artifact will be coming to UH and placed around the University Center only because it’s, really the UC is the hub of campus where students and faculty and staff come together. And I think having, adding this feature to the UC, right in front of it, will be a nice place to have just a meditation garden, if you will so that people can really reflect upon not only what it is to be a Cougar, but also reflect on what the artifact means.”
Kowalka hopes the artifact will encourage students and faculty to not only remember the events of 9/11, but to also to remember what it means to be a Cougar. He thinks the artifact will attract more recognition toward the university.
“We are always trying to be the best in everything that we do, so I think it’s kind of a feather in our hat that we are the only university in the state of Texas to have this feature. As people come to the university, through Cougar Previews, through orientation, we’re not only going to be able see we have the best UC in the state, but we’ll also really highlight some of the unique qualities that we have.”
The official unveiling of the artifact will occur this upcoming January in the UC’s sculpture garden. Although the university will not be actively marketing the 9/11 memorial, there will be available parking near the UC for visitors.