Before the construction of the social quad as it stands today, the quad behind Bibb Graves Hall had what was called the Foy Fountain.
Dedicated to the memory of Foy Ingram Cummings, a former Troy professor in the department of education and psychology, the fountain featured a plaque with the faces of her four grandchildren — Chris, Jan, Derek and Carrie — on it.
Over time, a tradition developed at Troy where students began rubbing the noses of the children for good luck.
“Sometimes during exams, I’d have to stand in line in order to have that opportunity,” said Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr.
When the quad was renovated in 2011, the plaque was removed and the custom lapsed with it.
On Saturday, Oct. 3, the fountain outside the dining hall was rededicated to the memory of Cummings, and the tradition of the nose rub was re-established with the reinstallation of the plaque.
Hawkins unveiled the plaque alongside the members of the Cummings family, including two of the children appearing on the plaque.
“That’s what great universities do,” Hawkins said. “They preserve traditions because preserving the past is progress.”
Hawkins described the custom as not only an endearing one but an enduring one. He said the restoration was important for the revival of a great tradition and also to celebrate the life of a remarkable woman.
Born in 1913, Cummings began teaching at Troy in 1937 and headed the Troy laboratory school from 1956 until her death in 1971.
“A great teacher, a grand lady and a lover of children, she was known as all,” said Walter Givhan, senior vice chancellor for advancement and economic development.
The fountain was dedicated by her husband on Nov. 13, 1971. Though Cummings did not have children of her own, she cared for her stepchildren’s children as her own, according to Marilyn Cummings, who is married to Foy’s stepson.
This affection was reflected on her commemoration with the faces of her four grandchildren.
“It symbolizes what a great woman she was,” Cummings added.
Graham Pierce, a junior global business major from Niceville, Florida, and assistant director of recruitment for the Student Alumni Association, said that the revival was a great way to connect students and alumni through the bond of a longtime tradition.
“We are very appreciative that we are being allowed to be part of this,” Pierce said. “I hope that students really start making this a tradition and start rubbing the nose for good luck.”
Jan Cummings-Samuels, one of the children on the plaque, was 5 when it was instituted on the old quad.
She said she was excited about the restoration of the plaque because she did not realize how integral it was to Troy and that having a connection to an old college tradition was wonderful.
“It’s fantastic,” she said. “All these years, we didn’t know that we were famous — at least our noses, anyways.”