Carillon bell system dedicated Nov. 2

October 27, 2009

Every day at noon and 6 p.m. when the bells sound on the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus, a 44-year-old tradition is kept alive.

The carillon bell system has been ringing out tunes on campus since 1965, when 1911 alumnus Leo Schleck donated the original bells.

On Monday, Nov. 2, a new set of carillon bells will be dedicated on the second floor of the James R. Connor University Center. The ceremony begins at 11:15 a.m., marking the hour the bells first rang in 1965. Chancellor Richard Telfer and members of Schleck's family will be in attendance. Campus and community members are also invited to attend.

"Preserving the tradition of the original bell-ringing by Schleck, the ringing of the bells today brings back history and tradition," said Kim Adams, University Center assistant director.

The original carillon bell electronics were located in the lower level of the University Center, while the speakers were moved three times in 13 years. The speakers were located on Old Main until they were destroyed in the 1970 fire. Makeshift speakers were installed at Hamilton Gym until 1974, when they were deemed unworkable. In 1978, students raised money for new speakers, which were placed on top of Winther Hall. The old bell, dating from 1873, was retrieved from the fire, restored with funds from Lois Duffin Fritschler '17 and is installed in front of the Alumni Center.

During the 2006 renovation of the University Center, key communication wires were cut between the programming unit and the bells, silencing the carillon.

Now, bells continue to be heard across campus and throughout the community every half hour. The graduating classes of winter 2008 and spring 2009, along with the University Center purchased a new carillon system. Speakers for the carillon are located on the roof of Hyland Hall and the programming unit is located on the top level of Hyland Hall.

The new system was installed in April 2009 and the bells rang out again beginning May 18, 2009.

While the old carillon programming unit consisted of four cabinets and filled a 6-foot by 6-foot space, the new unit is the size of a three-drawer filing cabinet. Included in the new electronic bell system are 420 different songs, 12 bells and 8 clock chimes. Some of the programmed songs include a selection of Beatles songs, including "I'll Follow the Sun," and other favorites such as "Piano Man," "Sound of Music," "Over the Rainbow" and the "Stars Wars Theme Song." In addition, UW-Whitewater Music Professor George Ferencz rearranged the "Warhawk Fight Song" and the UW-Whitewater "Alma Mater," which will play each October in celebration of Homecoming and to observe commencement in December and May.

For more information on the carillon bell system or the dedication, contact Adams at


Sara Kuhl