About Memorial Chapel
Welcome to the Memorial Chapel
Dedicated on October 12, 1952, the non-denominational and picturesque Memorial Chapel stands in honor of members of the University of Maryland community who lost their lives serving our country in the United States Armed Forces. An icon at the University of Maryland, the Memorial Chapel stands as a symbol of unity and serenity. The location of about 1200 activities a year, the doors are open annually to more than 80,000 visitors of all faiths, cultures and walks of life.
Serving as the center for religious life for the campus, the Chapel is also a great venue for lectures, concerts, services, convocations, commencement ceremonies, and weddings. The facility has much to offer to our on- and off-campus communities. Activities in the Chapel need not be religious in nature, but all must be the type of event that respects the integrity of a place of worship.
While many students look to the future as they receive their degree at the many commencements ceremonies held here each year, hundreds of alumni return to the Memorial Chapel to exchange wedding vows. Throughout the academic year students, faculty and staff are invited to lectures that often feature prominent leaders such as former Senator John McCain, former Governor Robert Ehrlich, Senator Joseph Tydings and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
Year round the Memorial Chapel Carillon, which can be heard across campus, rings the school's Alma Mater, inviting the campus and surrounding community to enjoy concerts, tours and join in worship. Surrounding the Memorial Chapel are gardens and courtyards that provide the community with a place to relax and reflect in the midst of a 1200 acres campus bustling with activity. Being a non-denominational facility, worship services at Memorial Chapel are as varied as the 14 faith communities represented by the University of Maryland Chaplaincies. For more information on religious life and worship times please contact these campus ministries directly at stamp.umd.edu/centers/memorial_chapel/chaplains.
1940s: Laying the Foundation
In 1946, four students presented the Board of Regents with 1,348 signatures in support of constructing an “interdenominational chapel upon the campus of the University of Maryland at College Park.” After unanimously approving plans to build a chapel, the Regents authorized President Harry C. Byrd to hire Henry Powell as architect. In 1948, the project took on new significance when the Regents decided to dedicate the Chapel to those who served their country in WWI and WWII.
1950s: A Decade of "Firsts"
Though the completion of the Chapel was repeatedly delayed, October 12, 1952 saw the dedication of the building in front of a capacity crowd of more than 1,300 before which Governor Theodore McKeldin delivered an address entitled, "The Importance of Religion." The Chapel would continue to grow in significance during this period becoming an increasingly central part of campus life and home to a number of long-time traditions.
1960s: Social Awareness
The 1960s began with the dedication of the Veterans Memorial Book honoring alumni killed in military service and ended with a more direct confrontation of war as students took to the streets protesting U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The steeple, as the highest point on campus acquired a symbolic as well as religious significance.
1970s: Turbulent Times
As an awareness of national issues as well as tension over the Vietnam War escalated across the country, protests against “the establishment” intensified on campus and around the Chapel. Along with riots and sit-ins, students circulated their own provocative publications criticizing institutions like the government and “The Church.” As the decade came to a close, so did the country’s involvement in Vietnam.
1980s: Renovation and Rejuvenation
The 1980s ushered in a decade of restoration for the Memorial Chapel as a result of both alumni donations and the students’ and faculty’s awareness of the Chapel’s needs. A 1981 fundraising campaign contributed to the restoration of the Moller pipe organ and carillon chimes and in 1987 much of the interior as well as the steeple and clock underwent repairs. During this time many new traditions were initiated.
1990s and 2000s
In the wake of national and global tragedies, Memorial Chapel has served as place for remembrance and reflection. Over the years the Chapel has hosted vigils and services in memory of such events as the space shuttle disasters of Challenger and Columbia, September 11, 2001, the Tsunami disaster and the events at Virginia Tech as a way to connect to the campus, to the nation and to the world. In 2014, with the inception of the University of Maryland in the Big Ten Conference, the Memorial Chapel started a new tradition. Every home and away football, men's basketball, and women's basketball game day, the carillon chimes the "Maryland Fight Song".