Wednesday, March 14, 2001

M.U. to add new accent

Russian-style domes on way

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        OXFORD — Miami University is ready to round out its campus with a little bit of Moscow — two golden “onion” domes.

        The familiar Russian-style domes will be placed over twin copper towers on Harrison Hall, home of the new Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies. University officials hope to have them in place this week if the weather cooperates.

[photo] Jim Murney steadies a ladder for co-worker Larry Trent at Miami University on a Russian-style dome at the new Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        The domes will remain there until graduation day in May.

        “It is, I think, wonderfully ironic that after the domes are taken down following graduation, they will be stored in the underground silo of the old Nike (missile) base west of Oxford,” said Holly Wissing, a Miami spokeswoman.

        The sight of Russian domes on a campus known for its staid, red-brick buildings is a contrast in styles. Coated with real gold paint, the domes were built at the Miami Airport and transported by truck into town Monday. They will be erected with a 90-foot crane.

        The structures were designed by Graham-Obermeyer & Partners, a structural engineering firm from Cincinnati. Atop Harrison, the domes will sit 65 feet in the air.

        The center is financed by a $6 million gift from the late Walter Havighurst, an English professor at Miami and the author of books on regional history. Since his death in 1994, the sum has grown to $10 million.

        “Some people ask how he made so much money,” Ms. Wissing said. “The only thing we know is that one of his books was used as the basis for Annie Get Your Gun.”

    Weight: 2,000 pounds each.
    Height: 15 1/2 feet
    Material: Plywood with ribs bonded together. Two pieces of each dome are joined on the sides.
    Donor: The late Walter Havighurst, who wrote The Miami Years.
        The center is led by Karen Lea Dawisha, author of 19 books and an expert on post-communist Russia and the former Soviet states. She came to Miami last fall as a Walter Havighurst professor in Russian and post-soviet politics.

        Mr. Havighurst's bequest stipulated that the money be used to improve cultural understanding between the people of the United States and the former Soviet Union. Thus, the center was formed, said Miami's Elizabeth Runyon.

        To celebrate the new center, Miami has designated March 22-April 1 as “Imagining Russia Week.” More than 20 departments and programs at Miami will participate and the university will welcome international visitors.

        “The festival is an opportunity to celebrate the vision of one man, Walter Havighurst, who loved Miami and knew that it would be able to succeed where most other institutions would fail — to take an important national concern and translate it into action,” Ms. Dawisha said, “

        “The need to teach Americans about Russia continues to be great.”

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