Statue revealed at Homecoming opening ceremonies

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The new U statue was revealed Friday afternoon on the Rock. President Donna E. Shalala, adminstrators, alumni, student organizations and donors were in attendance. Monica Herndon // Assistant Photo Editor

Last Friday, a new campus tradition was born.

The U statue – a project three years in the making – was unveiled at the Homecoming opening ceremonies Friday afternoon.

The Cane-colored U encased by stainless steel stands at the center of campus on a patch of grass by the Rock. Students are encouraged to pass by and rub the U for good luck on the way to exams, athletic events, interviews or any other important occasion.

“Homecoming theme this year is all about tradition and the U. We thought it would be great to incorporate this new tradition into Homecoming,” said the Student Government (SG) Executive-at-Large External Bhumi Patel.

UM President Donna E. Shalala, Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Whitely and Sebastian the Ibis all helped to pull off the blue tarp and reveal the U statue.

“It looks very clean, classy and simple,” said sophomore Steven De Nicola, who attended the statue’s unveiling.

Freshman Freddy Michaud, who was also present at the ceremony, said that the statue makes campus look more complete.

“I have three tests next week, so I’ll spend a whole bunch of my time there by the statue,” he said.

The U statue was first proposed by the 2010-2011 SG Executive Board, which ran for office with a platform to temper the campus. The board included President Christina Farmer, who came up with the idea for the statue, and Vice President Pietro Bortoletto.

“University of Miami students are very spirited when they’re at the stadium, but we felt like our campus was a little lackluster when it came to spirit,” Bortoletto said.

They modeled the idea on the Sebastian the Ibis statue in front of the Newman Alumni Center, which was revealed during Farmer’s presidency. SG wanted something similar in a more central location on campus, Bortoletto said.

Under Farmer’s administration, SG announced a student design contest for the statue. Kevin Jones, an architecture student who graduated from UM in spring 2011, was the winning designer, according to Farmer.

Last year’s SG President, Brandon Mitchell, took the project forward under his own ticket’s platform to spirit the U.

“We made getting this U statue, or at least pushing it as far as we could, our number one priority on that platform,” Mitchell said.

The efforts during Mitchell’s year included getting price estimates, seeking funding and determining a location.

Whitely, who said she is thrilled with the U statue, was a big supporter of the project throughout three SG terms.

“President Shalala and I thought it was a terrific idea and that the U would add to the spirit and community on campus,” Whitely said. “More importantly, it was a student initiative.”

The cost of the statue has come out to about $85,000, according to SG Press Secretary AJ Ricketts. This is significantly less than the approximately $1.2 million that Mitchell expected.

According to current SG President Nawara Alawa, the statue was funded through the budget for the Student Center Complex project – which includes the construction of the new Student Activity Center and updates to the existing University Center.

Mitchell is eager to see what other traditions emerge.

“The students that are there now will be the ones to really take charge and figure out what they want the legacy of the statue to be,” he said.

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About Author

Lyssa Goldberg is online editor of The Miami Hurricane. She is a senior majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in math. She has interned at Mashable and the Miami New Times, and her work has also been featured in The Huffington Post.

14 Comments

  1. Sebastian the Ibis on

    they should hire a bunch of actors to play frisbee on the green behind the statue for pictures to use in all the prospective student brochures as well

  2. @ Andrew

    At almost every university, there is some landmark on campus that serves as a point of pride, a monument used for pictures at orientations, graduations, special events, campers, and more. Miami lacked this. The closest thing to a monument was the University of Miami sign, out of the way near Ponce. And even that lacked any grandeur of inspired any awe.

    A one time investment of 85K in a monument that will serve as a point of pride for generations is well worth the money, especially when NONE of it comes from tuition dollars. Again, it was taken from the Student Activities Center budget, which is quite large.

    And studying in the library does not move this school forward. It is what is done outside of the classroom and library that makes attending this school special, and moves this school forward. The SoC has just recieved a major upgrade in equipment, Bill Clinton is speaking at Business School lectures, Barack Obama just toured the Engineering School, Architecture is being renovated within a few years, Frost is world-renowned. Academics is moving forward. 85K for a monument does nothing to change that.

  3. Like omg the statue is totes cute idk what u guys r talkin about like now I can see my school spirit every day

  4. Bro, Devourer of souls on

    Y’all nerds just jealous and want the school to make your nerdy crap easier, we invented swag and that statue is 100% swag right on the campus and now I can see it every day while I laugh at you backpacking nerds at the library try getting laid instead of whining on this l0l

  5. @Common Sense, you argue that the proposals espoused by Young Modulus are impracticable and/or unnecessary, and you may be correct. You have not, however, established that there is good reason to devote $85,000 to a “campus landmark”. What tangible benefits are derived from this statue? I would argue the benefits are negligible, especially when you consider the many other purposes to which that money could have been put.

    Those of us who criticize this statue and the wasteful spending associated with it are neither negative nor unintelligent–we are students who wish to see the university continue its rise in the rankings, and we believe that the university and its students would be best served by investing in academics rather than statues. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to the library so I can continue pushing this school forward.

  6. To Young Modulus

    Recall election? Taking U Forward was one of the most successful SG boards in the past decade. This was one of many platforms they were a part of working on.

    You know what’ll really improve school spirit? Intelligent students who don’t complain, and know their facts. More dorms on campus? Do you see room for that anywhere? And good luck with negotiating with Coral Gables on their building codes – there’s a reason we don’t have a stadium on campus…let alone new dorms.

    I have rarely heard of any complaints of Cox. More parking spaces? Where have you been during the construction to Ponce parking garage to add more spaces? A basketball court by Mahoney Pearson? Yea, because the 10 minute walk to the Wellness Center where you have 5-10 courts is way too long.

    Style over substance? Take a look at the school’s rise in the rankings through the past 10 years. 85K for a campus landmark is not even a small dent in the grand scheme of things. It is the negativity and blindsight of people like you that hold this school back.

  7. Some Guy in Turkey on

    It should’ve been a statue of Bradford McGuinn. I would’ve gladly given my life savings to that.

  8. I hate to wipe the smiles off all those happy people in the picture, but $85k is absurd. Once the students who went to the statue unveiling realize how wasteful & unnecessary this was, they should be saddened.

    Someone should get the opinions of the student government (SG) regarding the nat’l deficit & gov’t spending. How could they think it was OK to potentially spend $1.2 million on something so frivolous? And make it their “number one platform”? Recall election, anyone?

    You know what’ll really improve school spirit? Adding more dorms so students can avoid a lottery system. Improving COX science center & bringing in new lab equipment. Having more parking spaces. A basketball court by Mahoney/Pearson. The list goes on.

    For now, I’ll see this as a reminder to how this school values style over substance every time I walk by it.

    P.S.-Excellent reporting-thank you for those $ values

  9. Sebastian Echeverri on

    I thought that this school had no responsible spending policy when I saw that the menu posters in the food court were being replaced with 44 inch flatscreen monitors displaying the exact same picture. Then I found out that the new chairs in the library cost $700 each.

    But then I found out about the new statue. Just to put the price in perspective, 85k is what I pay for all four years of college. Only two years ago I was told repeatedly that the university had no money to fund an East Asian Studies minor, despite having professors willing to teach and students begging for the program. To see how they are spending all this money they supposedly didn’t have available for education is just spitting in my face. Downright disgusting, UMiami.

  10. $85,000 is a large price-tag for a statue of the school logo so as to gain “school spirit” and the hope that a tradition will spring up with some mild “encouragement”. A huge disappointment.

  11. This is an inane waste of money. I will have more school spirit when the university improves academics here.