Ashland University to Hold Prayer Garden Dedication Oct. 13

Artist Rendering of the Prayer Garden

10/2/17 ASHLAND, Ohio – Members of the Ashland University Women’s Auxiliary will hold a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Prayer Garden that has been created on the east side of the Jack and Deb Miller Chapel on the AU campus.

The event is open to the public and is set for Friday, Oct. 13, at 11:30 a.m. The ceremony is part of AU’s Homecoming celebration.

The dedication and ribbon cutting will include a welcome from AU President Dr. Carlos Campo; greetings from Karen Campo, AU first lady; reflections by Lani McKnight of the Women’s Auxiliary; special music from Jody Thomae of the Women’s Auxiliary; special flower planting by the Women’s Auxiliary; recognition of the donors by Margaret Pomfret, vice president of institutional advancement; and acknowledgements from Margaret Ann Hess, president of the Women’s Auxiliary.

On Friday, May 5, 2017, the Ashland University Women’s Auxiliary “turned the dirt” for the proposed Prayer Garden, which began as a discussion in 2015 between AU’s First Lady Karen Campo and Rev. Jason Barnhart, who was executive director of Christian Ministry. Barnhart shared his vision to provide a place for prayer, peace and quiet among the busyness of campus life.

Karen Campo, representing the AU Women’s Auxiliary organization comprised of spouses of past and present AU Board of Trustees and Executive Leadership, desired to bring a meaningful project to the Auxiliary women that they could support and see through to fruition. After hearing Barnhart’s heart and vision, she felt a Prayer Garden would be the perfect collaboration between the Women’s Auxiliary and the Office of Christian Ministry.

When she shared the idea of the Prayer Garden with members of the Auxiliary, the members wanted to know more. Toby White, supervisor of grounds at AU, created a garden design, and the Auxiliary commissioned a full color rendering by AU graduate and graphic artist Cecelia Maxwell.

After seeing the visual presentations, the Auxiliary enthusiastically voted to move ahead.

“This garden needs to happen,” said Auxiliary member Lani McKnight. Inspired by the artwork, Lani and her husband, Paul McKnight, gave the lead gift for the Prayer Garden and other Women’s Auxiliary members and friends followed with their support. The Auxiliary members committed to raising $15,000 as a group, as well as a commitment to financial responsibility: the Prayer Garden groundbreaking would not happen until the initial goal was reached. Contributions received over-and-above the cost are being used for ongoing garden maintenance.

Student and campus support also was important to the Women’s Auxiliary. In response to a suggestion by Dr. Dan McDonald, chair of the AU Art Department and Faculty Senate president, students from Professor Janis Wunderlich’s Ceramics I and II classes designed a mosaic wall for the south end of the Garden. Clay tiles were hand-crafted by students as well as Auxiliary members, working alongside each other.

Also, a large redwood cross will oversee the Garden on the east wall of the Miller Chapel. Tim Plank, a long-time Ashland University carpenter who is now retired, built the cross from reclaimed lumber from the original Redwood Stadium that existed where Clark Hall and Kilhefner Hall now stand.

The garden includes flowering plants, shrubs and trees that provide color throughout the year. Several of the current trees remain and a walking path, benches and inspirational scriptures and signage will complete the Prayer Garden.

The Ashland University Women’s Auxiliary was initiated by former AU First Lady Janet Clayton in 1959. The Women’s Auxiliary meets three times a year for educational, social and philanthropic activities and continues the tradition of vibrant and active support of the Ashland University community.

Ashland University, ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2017, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( deeply values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.                                                                                ###

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