Bells Chime Across Campus Again

For whom does the bell toll? It tolls for thee. More specifically, it tolls for the students, faculty and staff of Montclair State University. After many quiet years, the carillon bells have returned to the College Hall bell tower.

For those wondering what exactly a carillon is, it’s a musical instrument that is typically housed in the bell tower of a church or municipal building. Our last carillon was donated in 1975 by alumna Dorothy Westcoat ’33. Every day for decades the chimes sounded every hour on the hour – with two musical selections played at 8 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. – before going silent several years ago.

The new, electronic carillon will operate on the same schedule, although its selection of 11,000 songs/voices far outpaces the 750 songs of the 1975 carillon. It also provides a resource for alerting students, faculty and staff in the unlikely event of a campus-wide emergency.

The carillon made its triumphant debut on the first day of classes, thanks to the dedicated efforts of a cross-functional team led by Associate Vice President for University Facilities Shawn Connolly.

A common experience
According to Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life Karen L. Pennington, there are myriad benefits to the carillon’s return.

“The carillon provides a nice continuity between current students and alumni. It's something that is a common experience for generations of Montclair State students,” says Pennington. “It’s a wonderful symbol of the campus, bringing purpose back to the bell tower. It provides a pleasant and melodic tone and adds a nice ring to the air. It also tells you what time it is!”

Student reaction to the carillon has been positive.

“When I hear the carillon chimes on my way to class, it makes me think for a minute how grateful I am to be at Montclair State,” says Patricia Walsh.

Julie Buonasora agrees with Walsh: “The fact that they now ring the bells in College Hall every half hour and hour gives me such happiness. It makes me feel like the quintessential college student on a typical American college campus and I love it!”