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“To pass my test.”

“To ace my job interview.”

“To win the big game.”

These are a few examples of what people wish as they add to the shine of the burnished toe of the Daniel Boone statue on Eastern’s Richmond campus.

The bronze statue began guarding the Keen Johnson Building in May 1967, and the tradition of rubbing the left toe of Kentucky’s best-known frontiersman began shortly after, specifically said to better the chances of a student doing well on college exams.

Over the past 50 years, thousands of students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors have deposited their wishes at the base of the nine-foot statue, a replica of the sculpture Louisville native Enid Yandell made for the 1893 World’s Fair. Fess Parker, who portrayed Daniel Boone in a television series from 1964 to 1970, even stopped by when he came to Eastern in 1968 to receive an honorary degree.

As the legend grew, so did the range of requests heaped on Daniel’s toe. Since at least the early ’80s, members of the EKU Marching Band — or Marching Maroons as they were then known — have filed by one at a time on the way from the band room to Roy Kidd Stadium to improve the chances of a successful performance, recalled Amy Wolfford Washburn, ’86, of Greensboro, North Carolina.

“Some years it worked better than others,” she noted with a smile. “Good memories.”

And alumni can’t resist a chance to visit the statue when they return to campus, even if they are no longer worried about getting a passing grade on a test.

“I rubbed that toe every chance I got,” said Jerry Miller, ’98, who met his wife, Ann Baehl Miller, ’92 ’94, at EKU, and now lives in Cincinnati. “Now that we have three children, we’ve taught them the same tradition when we go back to campus.”

This is only one of the traditions Eastern alumni remember as they look back at their years on the “Campus Beautiful.”

For many, taking part in annual Homecoming activities — from the parade to the halftime crowning ceremony — is a tradition they continued after graduation, returning from far-flung locations (or around the corner) one weekend a year to once again share those activities with friends and family.

The wearing of beanies by EKU freshmen was an on-again, off-again tradition that finally ended for good in 1973, according to EKU Assistant University Librarian Jackie Couture, co-author of “Eastern Kentucky University: 1957-2006.”

Fawn Conley, ’85 ’92, of Richmond, Kentucky, who was a freshman during one of the tradition’s on-again phases, at least found the reviled cap fairly comfortable. “I got so used to having it on that I went to bed with it on one night,” she admitted.

Students gathering at “Powell Corner” between classes has been happening for decades, and the “Corner” has consistently provided a central gathering spot for student conversations, as well as a locale for formal and informal informational events.

Hanging of the GreensAnother observance remembered fondly by many alumni is the Hanging of the Green. Beginning in 1930, a group of students would ceremoniously hang mountain laurel the first week of December in celebration of the holiday season — first in Burnam Hall, then, as the ceremony grew in popularity and size, in the Keen Johnson Building. Participants would then light candles, sing Christmas songs and often hear from a guest speaker. After almost seven decades, participation declined and the ceremony has not been held since 1997. 

In an article about the ending of the Hanging of the Green ceremony, Ashley Salyer Thacker, ’13 ’15, a member of the University Special Collections & Archives staff, emphasized the important role traditions play beyond providing wonderful memories, writing, “Traditions give us a common bond, a sense of pride and a surge of spirit that inspires us to grow.”



There is a special place at the heart of Campus Beautiful that unites us all. Lined with trees and graced with flowers, it is in this place we have discovered new friends, enjoyed new experiences and encountered the magic of campus life. When visiting our beloved EKU, we are drawn to this special place and the beautiful memories it evokes.



As some of the University’s traditions have faded, others have risen to take their place, still inspiring the campus community to continue that growth.

Special programming offered for incoming students has created new traditions, including an annual freshman convocation, picnic and Traditions Night, where students learn chants and cheers associated with EKU Athletics.


At the end of each semester since its completion, Turner Gate has been the backdrop for a steady stream of seniors wearing graduation caps and gowns posing for photos — alone and in groups.

The University’s newest landmark, formally dedicated in August 2016, is distinguished by four simple but profound words — Wisdom and Knowledge on one side facing Lancaster Avenue, Purpose and Passion on the other — that describe what students come seeking and what they acquire during their studies to use for the betterment of society.

“These four words epitomize how Eastern can properly prepare our students and also instill in each of them the desire to attain greatness in their life endeavors,” said Craig Turner, ’75, chair of the EKU Board of Regents, who, with his wife, Madonna Spradlin Turner, ’75, donated the funds for manufacturing and installing the gateway.

At the beginning of the Fall 2016 semester, more than 2,000 EKU freshmen took part in the University’s newest tradition — the Welcome Walk — where the incoming freshman class passed through Turner Gate to the cheers of faculty and staff, who lined the route offering their support and encouragement.

Addressing the students at the Keen Johnson Building before they began the walk, EKU President Michael Benson explained they were living in history.

“We are starting a new tradition tonight, and generations after you will say that the class of 2020 was part of something great,” he said, expressing his hope that the Welcome Walk becomes an enduring tradition much like rubbing Daniel Boone’s toe for good luck.

Perhaps those freshmen will return to campus with their own children and retrace that freshman walk with them through Turner Gate, before visiting the Daniel Boone statue to share the story of their good fortune at Eastern.