of Hawk Mascot Unveiled; A
Legend Begins at UNC Pembroke
The Tommy Statue
was in place for just four days when its legend took hold at UNCP. Senior
basketball player Chavis Rachel was photographed by a passing Fayetteville
Observer-Times photographer climbing the rock to touch the hawk for
luck before the Homecoming game on Feb. 13, 1999. With the Braves down
by two points, Rachel made a desperation three-point attempt that --
perhaps guided by an unseen hand -- found nothing but net to win the
game. Rachel's visit with the hawk was not revealed until the following
Thursday when the photograph was published by the newspaper.
an assist from a gentle breeze, UNC Pembroke's Class of 1999 unveiled
a life-size bronze statue of the school's mascot in a Wednesday morning
Located in front
of the James B. Chavis University Center and perched on 16-tons
of granite, the red-tailed hawk statue was hailed by students and university
officials as a new campus landmark and a new school tradition. It is
the gift of the Class of 1999.
The statue is the
university's largest and is placed in one of the most visible locations
on campus. The ceremony, attended by over 200, included an honor song,
drummed out by a contingent from the Native American Student Organization.
"This is the start
of a new tradition, and I urge you to rally around the rock," Chancellor
Joseph B. Oxendine said. "The red-tailed hawk symbolizes the courage,
speed, power and vision for athletes and all students to aspire to."
"Although the red-tailed
hawk has been our mascot for only seven years, the tradition of the
hawk goes back centuries for local Native Americans," he said. "You
really can't walk around this campus without seeing and being seen by
Dan Kenney, who directed the project, called the hawk, "a symbol we
can all relate to."
"Don't be afraid to touch the rock," he advised students. "I believe
its magical and spiritual qualities will rub off on all of us."
Mr. Orvil White,
chair of the Senior Gift Committee, said it was "an appropriate gift"
for the senior class.
"As a symbol, the
hawk is worthy of this honor because of its unfailing pursuit of success
in the hunt," Mr. White said. "I challenge you to set similar high and
lofty goals for yourself .. to embody the spirit of the hawk."
Mr. Kenney thanked
the individuals who were involved in the project.
lot of people helped with this project, especially Professor Paul Van
Zandt who is a talented genius," Mr. Kenney said of the statue's creator.
"Paul exemplifies the ideal of public service for us all."
For the record,
the bronze statue is 22 inches tall with 57-inch wingspan and weighs
150 pounds. It sits on a pedestal of raw granite weighing close to 16
tons and over nine-feet tall.
The statue took
Professor Van Zandt about sixteen weeks to complete and was crafted
after close observations of a red-tailed hawk. The artist said he enjoyed
the challenge of this project.
"I was impressed
by Dan Kenney's enthusiasm and the fact that the students were involved
and excited about it," Mr. Van Zandt said. "I feel good about giving
something back to this campus."
It is not the first
Van Zandt bronze on campus. He created the statue of university founder
Hamilton McMillan and a bust of Dr. Adolph Dial, a long-time UNCP professor.
Mr. Van Zandt joined the university in 1969 and has served as chair
of the Art Department for 29 years.
Mr. Kenney thanked
Greg Price with the state Department of Transportation who located the
rock at Becker Quarry in Harnett County, Lonnie Locklear who transported
the rock and Dr. Stan Knick who provided research for the project.
to University Newswire