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Global Courtyard dedication cements NC State’s commitment to global diversity

On Nov. 8, 2021, NC State officially dedicated the Global Courtyard, a new, reservable space for students to gather and celebrate diversity.

The new space, located between Tompkins and Primrose Halls, features a globe-shaped patio area surrounded by tables, chairs, special trees and inspiring artwork from an NC State alum. The idea for the space was generated in late 2017 after the Office of Global Engagement moved to Primrose Hall, which neighbors the Global Courtyard today.

“One of the things that this campus has lacked is really a place to celebrate the global diversity that we have,” said David Hawley, the assistant director for student and community engagement within the Office of Global Engagement. “NC State has the most globally diverse campus in North Carolina. … There were no spots to really celebrate and acknowledge like physical representations of that on campus.”

Previously a dark, muddy and unused area of campus, the Office of Global Engagement wanted to transform this space into a lively representation of the University’s commitment to global diversity. When brought to the office of the executive vice chancellor and provost, the idea gained support from Provost Warwick Arden, who wanted student input in the development of the design.

“He connected us to the College of Design, and we started working with a graduate studio in the landscape architecture program,” Hawley said. “We worked for that entire [2018] fall semester and that was their project.”

Once the students turned in their visions for the space, a group of University officials got together to ensure a cohesive product.

“That semester [the students] had a design development studio, so they had to carry a design through a development-level set of drawings,” said University Landscape Architect Tom Skolnicki. “From those student ideas and sets of drawings, there was a blue ribbon panel that selected and kind of took pieces of about three or four of those design ideas. Then Dave Josephus, the landscape architect, pulled those items instead of construction drawings and kind of pulled the design together.”

The studio, with 22 students in all, was composed of students from Bangladesh, the U.K., Brazil, China, Korea, Canada, India and the U.S., illustrating firsthand the University’s strong international diversity.

One of the more prominent features of the courtyard, the art piece “Dream of Flight” by NC State alumnus Heath Satow, was not included in the student plans and was instead added at the last minute due to a well-timed opportunity. The piece, featuring three metal wing-shaped figures surrounding a 2D depiction of a globe, was originally displayed in the general aviation terminal of Raleigh-Durham International Airport. It became available during the Global Courtyard’s design development phase, and the University worked with the airport and Satow to save the piece and incorporate it into the courtyard.

“With a new location, art can have new meaning,” said Satow in his speech at the Global Courtyard’s dedication. “To me, this work now has become a call for us to embrace and accept different talents, ideas and life paths that every person brings to the table, to be open to all the varied experiences every individual has to offer, and to move beyond what is now possible to dream about what we can make possible.”

Beyond the landscape and the artwork, the Global Courtyard also has Wi-Fi and outlets for students to use, contributing to its ability to serve as a functional space. The courtyard is also reservable for students and organizations and has already seen much use.

“We are constantly having events from groups from study abroad, pre-arrival and departure to international student welcomes,” Hawley said. “It’s open to any event, but especially for events that have a global focus.”

The courtyard’s dedication, although delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, was seen as an important step in recognizing and representing diversity on campus.

“I think having that physical representation, that we are a global university, that we value the contribution that our international students bring, that we value student mobility and being able to study abroad and having all these experiences is impactful,” Hawley said. “It was still important that even though it was delayed a year and a half that we still take one afternoon to kind of acknowledge that this is a new spot on campus.”

This article was originally written by Caleb Jolley and published on November 29, 2021 by The Technician.