In his first public act as the Homecoming grand marshal, former National Football League cornerback and MU graduate Roger Wehrli will speak at a ceremony to introduce the Mizzou Legacy Walk, which will lead visitors into the Reynolds Alumni Center.
The walk will feature 609 bricks engraved with donors' names.
Members of Marching Mizzou will perform, and kettle corn, apple cider and brick-shaped cookies will be available after the unveiling. Luminaries will light the walk Friday night, said David Roloff, director for Alumni Association Membership and Marketing.
He said the Alumni Association wanted the ceremony to serve as a kick-off for the Homecoming weekend.
"It symbolizes the alumni connection to campus and bringing people back home and connecting them, and it just seemed like a really fitting time of year to dedicate this," Roloff said.
Last year, Roloff said he noticed the growing popularity of brick-path programs and pitched the idea to the Alumni Association. Since there was already a path outside the Alumni Center, he said the project seemed like a no-brainer, and it was announced at the Alumni Association's Sesquicentennial Celebration last September.
MU Campus Facilities broke ground on Sept. 12 this year, and it cost approximately $80,000 to remove the existing path and install the new one, Alumni Association Director Todd McCubbin said. The Alumni Association raised more than $245,000 in the project's first year.
The Alumni Association's original goal was to sell at least 300 bricks for the first phase of the walk, but it more than doubled its target, Roloff said. There are 2,576 spaces for bricks, and the walk could be extended when the spots fill up.
The popularity of the project stems partly from affordability. The bricks cost $375 for Alumni Association members, $405 for recent graduates and $415 for other non-members.
"Hopefully, the Legacy Walk will be an area on campus where average alumni, who really can't afford naming rights to big buildings, can actually have a little piece of their Mizzou memories on campus," Roloff said.
McCubbin, who will open the ceremony, said the walk is "the sort of thing that adds character to a campus." He said he hopes the walk, like Tiger Plaza, will show students how much the alumni care about the campus.
Alumni Association Student Board President Anne Case-Halferty said she commends alumni for their commitment to the university, and she expects the walk to keep alumni connected to Mizzou.
"I think the Legacy Walk will be a good way to remind students that their involvement goes beyond their time at the university," Case-Halferty said.
Don Ayers, who graduated from MU in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in business administration and is now a real estate broker in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., got that reminder. Ayers and his Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers purchased bricks for themselves and for deceased brothers.
Although many of them gather in St. Louis yearly, the walk opened a new way for the brothers to reunite.
"The Legacy Walk provided an avenue for a lot of us that were in school together and cared about each other to get back together again," Ayers said. "We can all be together again."
Ayers said he hopes to see the walk when he visits Missouri in December.
The walk targets alumni, but current and future students could also reap the project's rewards. The Alumni Association allocates $200,000 to its Student Scholarship Endowment each year.
After selling 609 bricks, the Legacy Walk has already netted between $160,000 and $175,000, and McCubbin said he anticipates a $1 million endowment after all the bricks are sold.
The proceeds from the walk will go directly into the Scholarship Endowment, enabling the Alumni Association to devote more money to scholarships and possibly found new scholarships.
The Alumni Association hopes the Student Board can create yearly campus traditions that tie to the walk. Roloff said it could be incorporated into Senior Send-Off, and Case-Halferty said it could be used in the Mizzou 39 ceremony.
Wehrli received a brick on the walk, as will each future Homecoming grand marshal.
The Alumni Association will install the bricks in phases until the walk is filled. Bricks from the second phase will be installed before commencement in May. The deadline to purchase bricks for phase two is March 1.