The Vern R. Harnapp Family Fountain was dedicated at Concordia University, Nebraska on Saturday, Oct. 4, during the university’s 2014 Homecoming and Alumni Reunion Weekend celebration. The fountain is the focal point of Concordia’s new plaza, an outdoor gathering space north of Janzow Campus Center.
Concordia’s Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement Kurth Brashear opened the dedication ceremony by welcoming alumni and guests to campus for Homecoming and Alumni Reunion Weekend and the dedication of The Vern R. Harnapp Family Fountain.
Concordia President Brian Friedrich then shared the Harnapp family’s relationship with Concordia and recognized their contributions to the university, stating, “We gather to recognize and celebrate the vision and impact of two Concordia alumni, Vern and Ruth Harnapp, who, along with their families, have blessed the University in a multitude of ways over three generations. … Today it is our joy to honor them and to give thanks to God for their Christian stewardship and faithful support in making this fountain possible.”
The ceremony continued with Dennis Scheer, architect at The Clark Enersen Partners, describing the theme and design of the plaza and fountain.
Vern Harnapp shared his and Ruth’s motivation for gifting the fountain and their ongoing support of Concordia and its students. He also shared his vision for the fountain, saying he hoped the fountain would be “a place where visitors and students can come and say, ‘I’ll meet you at the fountain.’ A beautiful place where cherished memories might begin, and even a bit of romance maybe. Sometime years from now, couples might reminisce and say, ‘Remember, honey, when we first met at the fountain.’ God surely knows. May this fountain inspire all who pass by.”
The ceremony closed with final thank yous and Friedrich dedicating the fountain through prayer. As the fountain was turned on, Concordia’s pep band led the crowd in “The Tower Song” and “On, Concordia,” the university’s fight song.
The fountain comprises three vertical columns of illuminated water, metaphorically representing the Trinity. An unbroken, circular band of pavement forms the perimeter of the columns of water and will contain Christ’s commission from Acts 1:8: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
A “ribbon” proceeds from the circular band and creates an overlay pattern on the three levels of the plaza and adjacent landscape. The ribbon will connect the engraved Concordia mission values—Learn, Serve and Lead—to the fountain and Christ’s words.
In recognition of the generosity of Dr. Vern and Ruth Harnapp, the plaza fountain has been named in honor of their Concordia lineage, spanning many generations. Vern attended Concordia High School through 1954 and received his bachelor’s degree from Concordia in 1958. Following graduation, Vern married Lavada Duensing ’59. Their children are Vanessa ’83, Veloyce ’86, Venita ’88, Verek and Verl. Lavada entered her eternal home in 2007.
Vern reconnected with Ruth Kiekhaefer, also part of the Concordia High School class of 1954, and the two married in 2008. Ruth attended one year of college at Concordia before continuing her education in nursing school.
In their personal lives and together as a married couple, Vern and Ruth have demonstrated learning, service and leadership through their careers in education and nursing, expansive missionary work, volunteerism and gifts to support Concordia students and university projects.
The plaza will be dedicated by the university during a chapel worship service on Oct. 27, 2014.
See also: cune.edu/homecoming