Memorial signs share names, photos, and descriptions of loved ones who died of COVID-19.
Photo: Ricardo Barros

When COVID-19 deaths in the United States crossed 200,000 and 300,000, the Office of Religious Life displayed hundreds of flowers on the steps outside the University Chapel. But as the toll neared 400,000 in January, the Rev. Alison Boden, dean of religious life and the Chapel, sought a more lasting and more personal tribute to the lives lost. 

Boden and her staff reached out to faculty, staff, students, and alumni, asking them to send information about people they would like to memorialize in a “silent vigil” outside MURRAY-DODGE HALL. Signs would show names of the deceased with photos and brief personal tributes.

The University’s Print and Mail Services department created the signs, the first of which were installed Jan. 29. Through late March, more than 80 members of the campus community, family, and friends have been memorialized. New submissions continue to arrive, along with thank-you notes from those who have honored loved ones and others who’ve simply seen the tributes while walking across campus. 

“We’ve received so much gratitude,” Boden said.  By B.T. VIEW a video tribute at bit.ly/silent-vigil