Whether intricately crafted from precious metals and gems, delicately carved out of stone or meticulously woven of grass, the ring has become a familiar symbol worn throughout history, signifying everything from love and commitment to fellowship and achievement.
On Jan. 26, at the University of Lethbridge's 45th anniversary celebration, the University of Lethbridge Alumni Association (ULAA) was delighted to announce the creation of a brand new University symbol, the Fiat Lux Alumni Ring.
"I think this is a wonderful initiative," says Maureen Schwartz, director, Alumni Relations. "The Fiat Lux ring is a great tradition to begin, and my hope is that it will tie all alumni together in a common bond for their alma mater.
The ring is a culmination of several years of hard work. It began in 2008 when the Students' Union approached the ULAA with the idea of an alumni ring.
"It just seemed to be the right idea at the right time. There was a nice mix of older alums and fairly recent graduates on the council and we all agreed that it was something that everyone wanted," says ULAA President, Kathy Lewis. "We sent out a call for designs and in the end we agreed on a beautiful design created by one of our students, Eric Klempnauer."
Klempnauer, a second year new media student at the time, was sitting in an introductory 3D modelling class when he first learned about the competition in the fall of 2010.
"I designed the ring on a 3D modelling program on the computer. It was my first experience with this. I just thought it would be good practice for me. I wasn't really that serious at first because I didn't think I would ever get chosen, but my friends kept telling me that it looked really good, that they would love to wear it. That was when it became quite a serious competition for me," explains Klempnauer who, ironically, received word that his design had been chosen the following spring while he was sitting in an advanced 3D modelling class.
"The design is something that isn't too bulky so it works well for men and women. It is a simple band with slightly raised edges. On the front is the University's crest – the sun – surrounded by the University's motto, Fiat on one side and Lux on the other (let there be light). I felt it was important to get the motto and crest in the design because they represent the University so well. The idea for the raised edges came from the design of University Hall and how it seems to rise out of the coulees. I am really proud of the ring and I believe others will be proud to wear it," says Klempnauer. "I am very excited to become an alumnus, especially now with the ring, because when you become alumni you become part of a family. The ring is a reminder of your time here and the friends you made; it is a way of connecting, and staying connected, with other people."
Lewis agrees, saying she believes that the ring is also a symbol of growth and maturity.
"We are 45 years old and 33,000 alumni strong. The ring is an iconic symbol of a University that is coming of age. We have reached a critical mass and we are everywhere in the world. We want alumni to be able to identify each other by the rings on their fingers. We would like people to be curious and ask about the ring to create a worldwide awareness of the University," says Lewis. "The beauty of the ring is that it says everything we wanted to say. I think it will be very nice to have something on my finger that reminds me, let there be light."
Cast in brushed silver, the ring is available in both wide and narrow bands. Each will be numbered sequentially and alumni can request a specific number. The rings will be made in partnership with Tompkins Jewellers and pictures of the ring as well as information on how to order one can be found on the alumni website (www.uleth.ca/alumni).
"We are going to begin a new tradition and have a special Fiat Lux ring ceremony in May at the annual Alumni Honour Society event just prior to convocation, to present the rings to all those who have ordered them," explains Schwartz. "We will then have another ceremony again in the fall. We have had so many people inquire about the ring and have had so many positive comments. I am absolutely thrilled."