One tradition on the UWGB campus is for graduating seniors to throw a pair of shoes, some with personal messages, in to the Shoe Tree branches.
The exact beginning of the Shoe Tree is unknown. We do know it was in place by 1991. Some speculate the meaning was “seniors throw [the shoes] because they’re leaving their ‘soles’ behind.” Others have theorized the purpose is to recognize “this is a big campus and that students were wearing their soles out walking back and forth.”
The beloved 150 year old oak, housing decades of senior shoes, fell during a thunderstorm on July 30, 2002. On October 11, 2002, Shoe Tree II, was dedicated near the Ecumenical Center (now Mauthe Center). At the December 2002 graduation, Chancellor Bruce Shepard, presented Leanne Shaha, the 20,000th graduate, a wooden bowl he had crafted from the fallen Shoe Tree.
We are hoping UWGB Alums can tell us more about this unique campus tradition. When did it start? What are your memories? Do you have a photo you could share?