UCA EDGE Labyrinth


A labyrinth is an ancient archetype with  a singular meandering  path that leads from an outer edge to a center and returns back to the outer edge. Unlike a maze, which is designed to puzzle or confuse, a labyrinth has one path in and one path out. For 4000 years or more, the labyrinth has been used to incorporate walking, silence, and meditation among other mindful practices. Labyrinths are found in every culture and on nearly every continent. Engaging with the labyrinth is a practice that has been found to support well-being. The practice of walking the labyrinth as self-care has been explored extensively with many different populations but with limited exploration with university students. Increasingly, labyrinths can be found on  university campuses and can be built from a variety of materials. Labyrinths can also be permanent or portable. Because labyrinths can foster a sense of well-being and inner calm, they serve as wonderful tools for finding quiet, peace, and reducing stress. 
In Arkansas, there are two labyrinths on university or college campuses, and interestingly, both are in Conway. A description of both labyrinths can be found in the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator (https://labyrinthlocator.com/) website as well as the  international index of university and college labyrinths (https://jansellers.com/publications/).


Dr. Jayme Milsap Stone is currently Director of Learning Communities for the UCA community. In 2013, she worked with Dr. Peter Mehl, EDGE Rector, and Tanya Jeffcoat, Resident Master of EDGE Residential College to get a labyrinth installed. These individuals talked about mindfulness and global engagement and what EDGE College could give to UCA regarding mindfulness that would last and be useful to the community. The first draft of a plan was written in October, 2012. In the plan, a labyrinth was proposed. Dr. Peter Mehl researched where labyrinths could be purchased and provided information in the draft plan. He included the company, The Labyrinth Company in South Carolina, formerly Connecticut, cost, suggestions for the surrounding space and foliage, including a fence and benches. On April 17, 2013, the groundwork preparation was completed by Physical Plant, and on April 19, 2013, the Chelsea labyrinth kit arrived at the UCA campus. The actual installation took place on Saturday, April 20, 2013. Tanya gathered students together to assist in building a fence, painting the walls of State Hall and installing the labyrinth. Some were international students. 

Dr. Tanya Jeffcoat was Director of the EDGE Residential College in 2013. At that time, Dr. Mehl wanted to create a place for students to congregage outside of EDGE College, so benches were placed in front and space was provided in back where the labyrinth now sits. EDGE stands for Educating for Diversity and Global Engagement. Tanya and Jayme wanted to include a labyrinth in the space because of its universal symbolism. Some of the students were international students. Some other students in EDGE petitioned UCA in 2018 to be a part of a universal community and some other residents were just placed in State Hall, home of EDGE. There was a girls’ dorm on the backside of the fence, and the fence was built to provide a buffer for them. The fence provided a sound barrier. The Physical Plant framed the fence and volunteers actually built the fence. Two active students in the project were Brad Hoke and Kirsten Young.

Mr. Kevin Carter is currently (2023) Associate Vice President for Facilities, UCA. He has been a lawn supervisor, housekeeping supervisor, a construction manager and associate director, so he has a wide array of experiences in the various aspects of maintenance and construction. Kevin’s involvement with the labyrinth began around the time that Dr. Peter Mehl, Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Rector EDGE Residential College, shared that a labyrinth kit had been ordered and received. Kevin and Danny Kendric reviewed the instructions and began working to install the labyrinth. They started with a backhoe and rented a compactor to prepare the ground for installation. The sand had to be packed tightly to provide a stable place for the labyrinth. The labyrinth blocks were packaged in sections, and Kevin and Danny followed the instructions carefully. They began on the inside and worked their way around the center. With the help of students, the labyrinth was installed on a Saturday in 2013. Polymeric sand was put in between the cracks of the pavers and misted with a hose to set it properly. A Sawtooth Oak nearby was trimmed and a fence was put up behind the labyrinth.