New electronic bells sound across NMU campus

MARQUETTE —  Northern Michigan University looks a bit different now that the new Jamrich Hall is open. It also sounds different now that a former NMU president and first lady have given the school a gift.

David and Martha Haynes recently gave NMU $20,000 to buy an electronic system of carillon bells. The computer-controlled system plays NMU’s alma mater and fight song, as well as hundreds of other tunes. The speakers are on top of the West Science Building and in the bell towers near the University Center.

“Eric Smith, our head of AV services and public broadcasting at Northern, came to me about six months ago,” NMU vice president for advancement Martha Haynes said. “He said, ‘I have this great idea, with the clock tower, to add the bells,’ and he said, ‘do you think we could find a donor?’. I said to Eric, ‘I think I have a donor in mind’, because I hadn’t talked to my husband yet. I went home and I said, ‘hey, what would you think of doing this?’, and he immediately loved the idea.”

The new carillon bell system was played for the first time at the dedication of the new Jamrich Hall last week. It also creates a learning opportunity that NMU students haven’t had before.

“Not only does it give the impression of having bells with our new clock tower at Jamrich, but it also allows our music students to do compositions on bells,” Martha Haynes added.

NMU has had a carillon bell system in the past, but it was struck by lightning in the mid-1990s and hasn’t worked since.