SDSU symbol shut down

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

The bells of the Campanile ring as students walk from class to class throughout campus. It stands proudly as a symbol of nobility for SDSU. But sadly, the Campanile is temporarily closed to the public. It is in need of a few repairs before it can be reopened.

The Coughlin Campanile will soon be under construction to temporarily fix its plaster ceiling. Portions of the plaster on the top floor have fallen down and it is in need of repair before the Campanile is reopened to visitors. If any more plaster falls it could be dangerous for visitors who want to climb the Campanile.

“We discovered the ceiling failure late this past summer,” said Dean Kattelmann, assistant vice president of the physical plant. “We decided to close it to the public for safety purposes.”

The reconstruction of the Campanile has not yet begun. The physical plant is trying to determine if there is a larger underlying cause to the falling plaster. The amount of damage will be determined by the physical plant. At that point repair decisions will be made, said Kattelmann.

The Campanile has a moisture migration problem in the ceiling. Until that problem is solved, the physical plant will not fix the ceiling. The physical plant is planning to remove the falling roof plaster so students and visitors can gain access to the Campanile, said Kattelmann.

The physical plant is planning to remove the falling plaster during the semester break. Once it is removed, the Campanile will bereopened for visitors to climb. The entire ceiling, however, will not be fixed until the moisture problem is repaired.

SDSU’s Campanile was a gift from Charles L. Coughlin in 1929. He was a 1909 electrical engineering graduate of SDSU. Coughlin donated his $75,000 gift on the twentieth anniversary of his graduation.

Coughlin worked for 35 years as a CEO for Briggs and Stratton, a giant manufacturer of small gasoline engines. His work there from 1950 to 1970 helped rank Briggs and Stratton as one of the top 50 U.S. businesses, according to Harvard Business School.

Coughlin’s generous donation paid for the tower, the beacon lights, the floodlights and a sidewalk that surrounds the tower. The tower itself is 165 feet tall with 180 stairs and has seven floors.

“The seventh floor was made for the Campanile’s chimes,” said Michele Sage, project manager of the physical plant. “However, it is only accessible by ladder and not by stairs.”

The Campanile should be reopened within a few months, allowing students and visitors to climb the stairs to the top. The Campanile is locked at all times but when the physical plant reopens it, the key will be available at the Tompkins Alumni Center and at the University Police Department. Everyone who climbs the Campanile stairs receives a free SDSU ice cream cone.

Once construction is finished and the campanile is reopened, students and visitors will be allowed to obtain the key, climb the stairs and receive their free ice cream coupon.