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UC Davis Centennial
100 years of service, solutions, impact
Photo: Tavernetti Bell greets fans entering from the east at the new Aggie Stadium.

The Tavernetti Bell greets fans entering from the east at the new Aggie Stadium, a multi-use facility that opened in fall 2007. (Dave Jones/UC Davis photo)

Looking Back

Namesakes: Thomas Tavernetti

Photo: Thomas Tavernetti

Thomas Tavernetti

It is hard to miss the bell whenever you are going to a football or lacrosse game at Aggie Stadium. The bell, named after Thomas Tavernetti, 1889–1934, allows Aggies to carry out our tradition of ringing the bell after we win games. When the two teams moved to the new stadium from Toomey Field in 2007, the bell followed.

Thomas Tavernetti was barely older than the students when he came to work for the University Farm administration in 1913, freshly graduated from UC Berkeley. The Farm was young, too, having opened just five years earlier as the first UC branch campus.

As a faculty member and administrator, Tavernetti would leave a lasting mark on both the Davis campus and the growing UC system before dying of pneumonia on his 45th birthday.

He was assistant to deans and directors of the University Farm in 1913–1930 and acting director himself in 1930, as well as assistant to the dean and assistant dean of the College of Agriculture in Berkeley in 1922–34.

Claude Hutchison, campus director in 1922–24 and UC dean of agriculture in 1930–52, called Tavernetti a “very wise young man” and credited him with helping to raise the rigor of agricultural research and teaching by hiring faculty with scientific training, particularly in animal science.

“I well remember many an hour, many an afternoon, where Tom and I would sit in my office and just talk about what we needed to do to strengthen the work at Davis,” Hutchison said in an oral history interview in 1961. “I have never ceased to miss him.”

Tavernetti was the son of Italian-Swiss immigrants who ran a dairy, then grew sugar beets, lettuce and cauliflower on an 80-acre farm in the Monterey County community of Gonzales, said nephew Burton Anderson of Salinas. Tavernetti and seven of his nine siblings graduated from college, Anderson said.

One brother, James, who attended UC Davis and UC Berkeley, spent 39 years as a research engineer for UC Davis’ Department of Agricultural Engineering.

Thomas Tavernetti was well-regarded by students. A dedication in the 1919 Farm Rodeo yearbook described him as “a devoted companion of the students, a zealous and earnest worker in all endeavors in the interest of the California University Farm.”

And it was alumni, according to a 1938 report in the Los Angeles Times, who acquired the bell from Tavernetti’s demolished grammar school in Spreckels to install in his memory on campus, where it gets rung after winning football games.

Kathleen Holder is interim editor for the UC Davis Magazine.

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