AU Traditions: Walk to the Rock



As part of Anderson University’s New Student Orientation each year, incoming freshmen gather and trek across campus to place their hands on a large rock — Pioneer Rock, as it’s called here. Located on College Drive between University Boulevard and Fifth Street, the stone serves as a physical reminder that the AU grounds were dedicated to God over a century ago. 

In 1905, the Byrum brothers, Noah and Enoch, left West Virginia to find a new location for the Church of God and The Gospel Trumpet publications. After purchasing a 40-acre plot of land in Anderson, Indiana, for $200, the brothers knelt where Pioneer Rock stands today and dedicated the land to the service of God. 

Twelve years later, in 1917, Anderson Bible Training School opened its doors on this land. The school later became Anderson College, and is now Anderson University. Since the Bryums’ dedication 116 years ago, thousands of students have set foot on the school grounds — learning, growing, and being transformed within the campus community. 

Now, when freshmen make the walk to touch Pioneer Rock, it symbolizes the start of their college journey, building upon the legacy of those who have gone before. Although the “Walk to the Rock” tradition only dates back to the early 2000s, it’s already grown into a staple event for the start of students’ AU adventure.

“It’s good to connect with our roots. In this case, it’s the founding of what would become the university nearly 120 years ago, when the Byrum brothers came and scoped out the land,” said AU President John Pistole. “It’s just a good reminder of how far we’ve come and how God has been at work all these years, decades, and centuries.”


Students walking to the rock

Anderson University is on a mission to educate students for lives of faith and service, offering more than 60 undergraduate majors, 30 three-year degrees, 20 NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports, alongside adult and graduate programs. The private, liberal arts institution is fully accredited and recognized among top colleges for its business, computer science, cybersecurity, dance, engineering, nursing, and teacher education programs. Anderson University was established in 1917 in Anderson, Indiana, by the Church of God.