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John F. Kennedy Display

A wall of photo panels in The Dulany Inn, Davies Center 122, records the November 12, 1959, campus appearance of Senator John F. Kennedy, one of the first notable visitors to the original Davies Center. Photographer Gil Tanner captured images of the future Presidential candidate speaking in Kjer Theatre, crossing the campus, and meeting with students in the Presidents Room of the College Center. Three months later Tanner also photographed the Eau Claire appearance of JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy during the historic 1960 Wisconsin Primary campaign.

John F. Kennedy on campus November 12, 1959

The central photo panel in the 1959 grouping shows Kennedy walking to the new College Center from the Little Theatre (later named Kjer Theatre), where he had presented a significant policy address to a student audience that overflowed backstage and into the halls. Kennedy is shown in front of the campus heating plant, accompanied by his friends Dave Powers and Ben Bradlee. JFK's future press secretary Pierre Salinger appears in another photograph in the grouping, which includes images of Kennedy speaking, walking past the Old Main building (Schofield Hall), and meeting with students in the future Davies Center. Kennedy had not yet officially announced that he would be seeking the Presidency of the United States.

Jacqueline Kennedy in Eau Claire February 26, 1960

Three months later, accompanied by his wife Jacqueline Kennedy, JFK campaigned aggressively throughout the Chippewa Valley as a candidate in Wisconsin's Democratic presidential primary. On February 26, 1960, he spoke at the Elks Club building (since demolished) in downtown Eau Claire.

In creating the Kennedy display panels, student graphic designer and photographer Maria Nocenti selected and edited images in the personal collection of Gilbert L. Tanner (1920–2007), a member of the UW-Eau Claire geography faculty who recorded campus life for more than two decades. The images came from an unpreposessing box of negatives and contact sheets that Laurie Gapko, an emeriti member of the University Centers staff, saved from being discarded. He discovered a wealth of Kennedy images — most of them unpublished — and allowed Nocenti to select, scan and restore them for the display of community history she was creating for the walls of the original Dulany Inn. The photo panels were installed for the 2007 renovation of The Dulany Inn, and in 2012 they were installed in the new Dulany Inn.

A designer and photographer for the University Centers for four years (2004–2008), Nocenti received a bachelor of fine arts degree in graphic design from UW-Eau Claire in 2007.

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