Afterwords: Sharing a sense of place and purpose

  • Afterwords: Sharing a sense of place and purpose

Afterwords: Sharing a sense of place and purpose

Afterwords: Sharing a sense of place and purpose

It’s the iconic symbol of our collective collegiate memory: gleaming cupola and towering pillars, halls echoing with generations of students and faculty moving forward together. Even if we never took a class in its historic halls, it is part of our lives—an elegant, bricks-and-mortar constant amid change and progress, dreams and memories.


Homage to Bunce Hall

The stately building stands
throughout the seasons
spring and summer, fall and winter.
At the beginning of the school year,
as fall gradually sets in,
Bunce Hall sits among
the brown and gold leaves
that fall from surrounding trees
familiar oak, apple, and ginkgo,
found on and by the Quad.
In winter, when trees are bare,
Bunce stands against the austere sky,
graced by a gentle Jersey snowfall.
And in the spring, as the apple
begins to flower once again,
a budding crop of students dons
caps and gowns and blossoms too
along with the brown-eyed Susans,
and the pink and white dogwood,
that flourish along the south side.

But the image that lingers most
is all of us entering Bunce Hall
with the seasons underfoot—
an autumn leaf stuck to the bottom of a shoe,
a bit of crunchy snow clinging to a boot,
or a splash of mud dripping from a heel—
How we tracked the seasons
into Bunce with us, one semester after another
and how the burnished marble floors
bore our imprints and wore the autumn leaves,
winter snow, and spring mud
as if it were the most natural thing to do.
How we moved up the steps
with our books and papers
down the halls with our hopes and dreams.
How we moved from one life-changing classroom
to another, one season to another,
one year to another—freshmen, sophomores
juniors, seniors—and finally, into the real world,
one lifetime to another.


Antoinette Libro ’60, M’67, is an award-winning poet who was an English education major when Bunce Hall was the only academic building and the heart of campus life. A student co-founder of Avant, the campus literary journal, she became a faculty member, director of the creative writing program and founding dean of the School of Communication. Professor Emerita of Writing Arts, she holds a Ph.D. from New York University.

She wrote this poem in 2004, having retired as dean and returned to teaching English in the venerable building where she had been a student.