By Julie Gumm '95
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
The sounds of campus — wind whistling through the trees, students laughing as they walk to class — are now joined by the soothing sound of bubbling water.
Situated in front of the Cathedral of the Ozarks, the “Living Water” fountain is a stunning new landmark gifted to the university by the Board of Trustees.
There’s been a desire to create a water feature somewhere on the campus for many years, said Jim Krall, vice president of advancement. In spring 2012, trustee Marvin Spees championed the idea and, supported by trustees Roger Cross, approached the trustees with the idea.
Current and former trustees then donated the financial resources to make the fountain possible as a gift to the JBU community.
“The fountain needed a spiritual focus that was reflective of our mission,” said trustee and president emeritus John Brown III. Just as the trustees began a conversation about the fountain’s theme, Brown received an email from Dr. Delia Haak, an adjunct professor in the graduate program and one-time administrative assistant to Brown.
It contained “It’s Bubbling in My Soul,” a devotional from “Our Daily Bread.” In it, author Dennis Fisher related his experience hearing a young West African girl sing the popular Sunday School song “It’s Bubbling in My Soul” over a public address system in her community.
The song draws a parallel between water and spiritual refreshment and reminded the author of John 7:37-38, “Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
Brown said the trustees had already discussed the water being symbolic of the Holy Spirit and so the verse tied everything together.
With the theme “Living Water” cemented, Siloam Springs artist Troy Anderson was commissioned to design the fountain. Working with Krall and with input from JBU art professors Dave Andrus and Charles Peer the fountain went through more than a dozen design renditions before it was finalized.
“In the end we agreed it should be simple with concrete that would blend in with the buildings,” said Krall.
The three bowls that stand in the fountain symbolize both the Trinity and JBU’s threefold mission of Head, Heart, Hand.
The location between the two Windgate art buildings seemed a natural fit and replacing the usually-wilted pansies was an easy choice. The site also sat on top of the steam tunnels which made some aspects of the construction easy, allowing the construction team to run electrical for lighting and install the pump without tearing up the plaza.
But when construction began in fall 2013, the steam tunnels also presented some challenges.
“The structural integrity became even more important so the fountain wouldn’t collapse into the tunnel,” said Krall. Waterproofing and precautionary measures against flooding the nearby buildings meant the construction process took longer than anticipated.
At the dedication ceremony on April 4, 2014, President Chip Pollard jokingly said, “it may have been the most complicated construction project we’ve ever had at JBU.”
During the ceremony attended by trustees, faculty and students, Spees said, “On behalf of the board of trustees, we give this fountain to the students, the faculty and the staff to say thank you for all you do for JBU, for the mission and for your contribution to the kingdom.”
Students have shown their appreciation with lots of pictures in their Twitter and Instagram feeds but, as any alumni might suspect, the fountain has also been home to a few pranks - suds, a shower chair and a various plastic floaty toys.
The fountain is sure to be the site of many happy moments, perhaps a few marriage proposals and definitely a source of joy and beauty for everyone on campus.
Julie Gumm '95 is staff editor and writer for university communications.
Photography by Matt Snyder, creative director for university communications.