From Fraternity To Eternity

Winning football games may seem like a matter of life and death for students and alumni. Now, at some schools, diehards can rest easy — right on campus.

Early Show National Correspondent Jon Frankel finds that a growing number of colleges are rushing to meet a new demand for on-campus burial plots, and generating some needed revenue to boot.

"A significant portion of my life is the University of Virginia," said Leigh Middleditch, an alumni of both the college and the law school at the University of Virginia. "I think I have a lot of sweat equity in the university of Virginia and I simply wish to be part of it upon my death as does my wife."

But the college cemetery, which opened in 1827, is sold out. So, Middleditch and other alumni remodeled the cemetary's wall to one day hold their cremated remains.

Dr. Dearing Johns, a medical school faculty member, helped get the project started in 1991.

"I think the overall feeling is that the columbarium is intended for those who devoted their life or some great part of it to the university and to whom the university means a great deal," said Dr. Johns.

Dr. Johns has brought one of the 180 vaults at a cost of $1,800. Each vault holds 4 urns.

The challenge is marketing these final resting places without seeming to be ghoulish. After all, it's one thing to invite somebody to rush a fraternity it's another thing to push the fraternity for eternity.

"People are dying to get in here," joked University of Richmond Chaplain David Burhans.

The University of Richmond just completed its own million dollar columbarium. The school will make a profit if all the vaults are filled.

"We don't see it as something we need to market aggressively," said Burhans. "We do want to make people aware of it."

Word has been slow getting out. Since opening this spring, few of the 3,000 slots have been sold. So far, just one name occupies the wall in Richmond's memorial garden.

But, most of the vaults are spoken for at the University of Virginia, where a second wall is planned.

"It's just a fitting culmination of the effort that I've put into the university and the affiliation I've had with it," said Middleditch.

Colleges are not alone in offering on-campus burials. Some high schools are offering the service. One Wisconsin high school charges up to $5,500 for space in its columbarium. School officials estimate potential revenue at $4.5 million dollars.


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