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May 30, 2008

Warhawk statue evokes awe on ULM campus

The bronze Warhawk sculpture, complete with its 17-foot wingspan, now safely perches at its new home at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The statue was installed next to the ULM Library Friday morning, May 30, in about two hours.

Paxton Oliver, associate dean of the College of Health Sciences, cut into his vacation time just to attend the installation. "I came here so I could tell my grandkids I was here when they set it down. I think it shows strong tradition. My stepfather was in the first class in 1931, and in the first graduating class. I think it's a nice tie to that."

Chloe Rogers, a sophomore PREP staff member from Crowley, said she'd never seen anything like it. "My first impression is 'Wow!' I didn't think it was going to be this big it's very nice and detailed. Students will be looking at it in amazement."

The 2,000-pound Warhawk was transported on a flatbed truck from Lander, Wyo., where it was created by Sandy Scott, one of the country's premier animal sculptors.

When called after the installation, sculptor Sandy Scott (currently in Wyoming) was thrilled to hear how well her creation was received by the crowd, remembering the sun glinting on the hawk as it left the foundry.

"It's always a lot of fun to know your work is in a public setting like that. I've done a lot of these monuments to nature, and you really hope they capture your client's feeling you want to be able to truly channel their vision. Hopefully over the years, it will become very symbolic to and an integral part of the campus."

Judging by other attendees' reactions, Scott's wish has already come true.

Tim Harrington, a junior history major from DeRidder and a member of the PREP staff, saw the models and imagined a nice 5-foot statue, and instead ended up with a bird he described as being on the scale of a condor. "I just think it's really, really impressive. I think it's really good to have something like this you go to other major universities and see large mascot statues there. Everything's new on campus now we have something big to look at, it's a really big milestone."

The bronze sculpture is everything First Lady Deborah Cofer imagined it would be.

"This statue instills a new sense of excellence, a new sense of energy. That is what this Warhawk means to ULM. It identifies us now and brings a wholeness to who we are, and it will carry us forward in every aspect. I think students, faculty, staff, and everyone else who visits the bronze Warhawk will understand what this mascot really means to us."

More details about the Warhawk statue: A base, 9-feet tall, was set and bolted to a concrete slab in the circle drive next to the ULM Library. A large crane then moved the Warhawk from the truck to the base. Lighting and irrigation systems for the surrounding landscape will be installed Friday and completed by next week.

ULM First Lady Deborah Cofer and Executive Assistant to the President Dr. Richard Hood thought of the idea for the statue shortly after ULM adopted its new mascot in June of 2006.

John Kinkade of Colorado is the director of the National Sculptors' Guild and supervised the installation, with assistance from ULM's Physical Plant. Kincaid has participated in at least 300 public installations and in a number of private ones as well.

An official ribbon-cutting will take place later this summer. The statue was funded through private dollars.

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