Culminating a longtime dream of its alumni, the University of South Alabama on Oct. 8 hosted a public dedication for Moulton Tower and Alumni Plaza.
The evening program was held in the Alumni Plaza at the base of Moulton Tower, near the Mitchell Center. More than 2,500 people attended the event, which featured the USA Jaguar Marching Band and Cheerleaders, a fireworks show and dinner at the tower.
The Gordon and Geri Moulton Bell Tower is named in honor of USA's second president and his wife for "exceptional service to the University of South Alabama and the Mobile community" spanning more than four decades, by unanimous resolution of the USA Board of Trustees on Sept. 17, 2009. Gordon Moulton joined USA on June 1, 1966, and was appointed president on July 29, 1998.
Kimberly Proctor, president of the Student Government Association, praised Moulton and the National Alumni Association for their longtime support of the project.
"It was your belief in this project, your fundraising that allowed us to accomplish this goal. On behalf of the students, I want to extend the most sincere appreciation and gratitude for your investment in our University, which offers us a brighter future. We are truly the benefactors of these gifts. Each day, these bells will mark the moments of our lives."
The Alumni Plaza recognizes those visionary alumni who foresaw and contributed gifts toward the landmark. Their dream lives through this bell tower and plaza, a monument to the loyalty and gratitude of USA alumni worldwide and an inspiration for future generations.
Alexis Atkins, a member of the Class of 1997 and president of the USA National Alumni Association, said "This tower is a permanent reminder of the vital role the alumni play in the University community and family. The nature of this project speaks to the community effort of the alumni association. You are the ones who made this happen and deserve the credit. This landmark represents USA's honored past and most cherished ambitions. It will become our symbol."
Dr. Joseph F. Busta Jr., vice president for development and alumni relations and master of ceremonies for the evening, noted that the tower and plaza resulted from 15 years of planning and fundraising by the alumni association.
"At first, the dream was that of simply a large campus landmark, but it evolved to be much more than 'a concrete and brick structure.' The 'dream,' now realized, is a special, nay, a 'sacred space,' telling the USA story of those who have led the University from the beginning to today and into the future as each new chapter is annually written. It also stands as a tribute to those who are our most loyal alumni, our Lifetime Members. It also recognizes the generosity of the many donors who helped make the bell tower dream a reality."
U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner called the event "an incredible moment in the history of this University."
Bonner said, "We are saluting a University president and his wife whose sound and steady hand at the helm of this outstanding University has brought their passion to USA every day for the past 44 years. Gordon and Geri's vision, their dream and their commitment to USA leaves a shadow that is just as impressive as this beautiful tower. Where would USA be without Gordon and Geri Moulton? From what I'm seeing, it is safe to say that the many things we celebrate tonight were possible only because of the generosity, the influence, and the love of Gordon and Geri Moulton.
Dr. Jim Connors, chair of the Faculty Senate, referred to the tower's potential as a site for numerous University events.
"I see a number of teaching moments all around me. I see a beautiful setting for outdoor concerts, for poetry readings, oratory and debate, the exchange of ideas. I see an ideal place to take my class on a beautiful day like the one we had today, to get them out, have a chance to stretch their legs, and maybe, stretch their minds a little bit."
James A. Yance, chair pro tempore of the Board of Trustees, introduced the Moultons, recalling how he had known them since the day he arrived on campus as a new student in 1966.
"When I think about the success the University of South Alabama enjoys today, Gordon and Geri Moulton immediately come to mind," Yance said.
"Under the leadership of President Moulton, the University has achieved significant milestones in every area, including student enrollment and graduation, academic program development, health care delivery, enhancement of student life and the campus environment, research funding, private-sector giving, community involvement and economic enhancement, and the list goes on and on.
"Geri Moulton likewise has contributed generously of her many talents, time, resources, and energy to countless community projects, including the beautiful sculpture park at USA's Children's and Women's Hospital, which the Board of Trustees recently named in her honor. Geri has literally given a lifetime of service that has been fully invested in the success and betterment of not only the University but the total community in which we live.
"I find it truly inspiring to work with people who are so committed to the highest and the best of this University," Yance said in closing. "This structure will be an endearing symbol of the spirit of the University and a constant reminder of the thousands of lives touched by the contributions of Gordon and Geri Moulton. We honestly thank you for all you've done for this institution."
Geri Moulton said she was deeply touched by the naming and the remarks of the speakers.
"Gordon's devotion to this institution, his boundless energy and enthusiasm, and his great desire to create an environment that allows every student to become a productive and compassionate member of society is authentic and contagious. And as for me, for these past four decades, I can only take credit for getting him out of bed, feeding him, getting him dressed, putting him in the car and pointing both of them in this direction.
"I want to thank the Board of Trustees with gratitude too deep to define," she continued. I would like to thank you for this name recognition and for all you have done for Gordon and me, but especially for Gordon. Your unyielding trust has propelled him to do his best, giving him a chance to make a living, to make a life and to make a difference. What could possibly be better than that?"
President Moulton praised everyone who contributes to the University and its role in the community.
"The true measure of a great university is ultimately demonstrated through the accomplishments and recognitions of its graduates, and the contributions of its faculty through the creation of new knowledge and ideas. However, the quality of the faculty, the staff and the students in any institution ultimately drives this outcome. I can honestly tell you that I have been privileged to work with the very best. Everyone on this campus, from the folks who cut our grass, trim our trees, maintain our buildings, up through the faculty and the staff, all the way through the Board of Trustees, we all share one common purpose, and that is that we're here to ensure the students' success. We believe that the responsibility for the success of our students belongs to all of us.
"Let me go one step further. We're a comprehensive university with a huge public service mission, much of which is associated with our hospitals and clinics. Those employees share the same enthusiasm, the same energy as those on the main campus, and their focus is on the excellent care and treatment of thousands of patients, and the easing of disease each day.
"Modern urban universities must have a strong public service mission if they hope to gain the support of the community. We try to be good citizens. Our students, faculty and staff appreciate our community, and we try every day to be the university our friends expect and support. These things all come together in harmony. It doesn't happen by accident. It all comes together through the quality and dedication of the people I've mentioned. And, you know what? It makes a president look good. In other words, I get a lot of credit for things that are generated by the entire USA family. I'm the luckiest man I know.
"For everyone gathered here and throughout the entire South Alabama community, I simply just want to say 'thank you.' To our alumni, for your confidence and your leadership in making this possible, to our retirees, for your loyalty and support to your university and to our students.and to the faculty.to our elected officials who wave the USA flag in support of our causes, we say thank you. And, to our Board of Trustees, for their patience, their good humor and superb leadership, I can't tell you how many good friends, how many great relationships and how much support, unselfish support, that these folks provide to this institution and have personally provided to me, and I can't say thank you enough. To the community, to all my friends who have done great things for us over the years since we came to Mobile, certainly I thank you. To Geri's family, and to my family for their love and understanding, especially my mother, I want to thank you for all you've done for me. Finally, to my best friend and partner for more years than she will permit me to say, 'Geri, thank you, thank you.' I love you all."
As Moulton ended his comments, the familiar melody of "Jaguar Pride" rang from the tower, followed by the Westminster Chimes and the tolling of the bells.
Immediately after the ribbon cutting, Dr. Thomas Rowell, assistant professor of music and a tenor, sang the alma mater, accompanied by the USA Jaguar Marching Band. The performances were followed by fireworks and dinner at the plaza.
Located between Alumni Hall and the Mitchell Center, Moulton Tower and Alumni Plaza stands as a symbol of unity for the University community, a campus landmark and a gathering place.
The complex features:
•a beautiful 140-foot brick and stone tower,
•authentic bronze bells and an electronic carillon,
•seating for more than 140 in an open, multipurpose activity space under the tower,
•Walls of Honor featuring names of individuals who supported the project and others
who contributed to the betterment of USA,
•an alumni plaza with benches and walkways, and,
•hand-painted murals that will be installed beneath the tower to reflect the teaching,
research, health care and service missions of the University.
The four bronze bells at the top of Moulton Tower range in size from two to four feet in height and weigh from 600 pounds to more than one ton.
More than 1,300 donors contributed to the project. For a complete list of donors, USA National Alumni Association Lifetime Members and historical leaders whose names are inscribed on the Walls of Honor, visit www.southalabama.edu/moultontowerdedication.html.
To see more photos from the Moulton Tower and Alumni Plaza dedication, visit