Mackay School celebrates centennial

3/25/2008 - By: John Trent

Nearly 100 years ago, the public flocked to the University of Nevada campus on a June day to commemorate the creation of what has since become one of the state’s most enduring and historic academic enterprises.

Today’s Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering was born on June 10, 1908, with the official dedication of the Mackay School of Mines building on the historic University Quadrangle.

The building was designed by the world-famous architect, Stanford White, of the prestigious New York firm of McKim, Mead and White. Standing sentry to the building was a statue of Comstock Lode baron John Mackay, produced by the renowned Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum.

The day honored donors Clarence and Marie Louise Mackay. It was their gift that had enabled the construction of the building and creation of the sculpture. Not surprisingly, in recognition of the historic moment that Nevadans were witnessing, the day was made a state holiday by the Governor of Nevada.

The esteemed Nevada historian, James Hulse, in his book “The University of Nevada: A Centennial History,” writes of the impact of the new school: “The Mackay School of Mines, with its attractive classical-colonial building, its admirable museum and library, its gifts from other friends who had been inspired by the Mackay benefaction, and in its success in placing graduates, became an ornament of the university.”

And now, nearly 100 years later, as Mackay continues its countdown to its official anniversary in June, a series of events in late April promises to rekindle much of the fanfare and festivities associated with the school when it first opened its doors.

“When I think of our school, I think not only of the great quality of our graduates and faculty throughout the years, but also of the great family 100 years of history has created,” said James Taranik, director of the Mackay School and longtime faculty member. “Mackay’s history is part of each and every one of the citizens of northern Nevada. We hope that the campus, our community and indeed, that our state will come to our campus in April to help us commemorate our centennial.”

The Mackay Centennial Week includes several events that are open to the public. The agenda for the week includes:

  • Sunday, April 20: Open House in the W.M. Keck Museum and DeLaMare Library, noon to 5 p.m. Monday, April 21: “Mackay Town” all-campus barbecue and celebration on the Quad, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Public lecture, Joe Crowley Student Union, 6:30-8 p.m. Featured speaker: State Climatologist and Assistant Professor of Geography Jeffrey Underwood, an expert on state and worldwide climate patterns. Tuesday, April 22: All-student barbecue on the Quad, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Public lecture, Joe Crowley Student Union, 6:30-8 p.m. Featured speaker: Hans-Peter Plag, research professor in Nevada Geodetic Laboratory and expert on solid earth geophysics and sea level and global climate change who will speak about the importance of Earth Day as well as global warming awareness.
  • Wednesday, April 23: Public lecture, Joe Crowley Student Union, 6:30-8 p.m. Featured speaker: Rachel Dolbier, W.M. Keck Museum Administrator and expert on the world-famous Mackay Silver.
  • Thursday, April 24: Mackay alumni and friends reception, Little Waldorf Saloon, Reno, 5-8 p.m. Cost: $5. Call (775) 682-5906 for information.
  • Public lecture, Mackay Science Building, Room 227, 11 a.m. to noon. Featured speaker: Don Myers, emeritus professor of mathematics and hydrology, University of Arizona, and expert on the history of geostatistics.
  • Friday, April 25: Virginia City Field Trip: A geologic and historic tour of the Comstock Lode including a ride aboard the V&T railroad to Gold Hill. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost: $65 per person. Call (775) 784-6987 for reservations.
  • Public lecture, Orvis School of Nursing, Room 203, 11 a.m. to noon. Featured speaker: Myers, speaking on multivariate spatial statistics.
  • Saturday, April 26: Open House in the W.M. Keck Museum and DeLaMare Library, noon to 5 p.m.
  • Mackay Gala, 5:30 to 11 p.m., Grand Sierra Resort, Reno. Tickets $150 per person; $1,200 for table of eight.

Note: All events, unless otherwise noted, are free and open to the public. For more information: Call (775) 784-6987.


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