FSU administrators, donors and alumni held a ceremony in Crocker Grove to formally reveal the new bronze ram statue, as a representation of the university’s spirit, on Sept. 8.
The statue cost $55,000 and was paid for entirely through private and alumni donations, according to Eric Gustafson, Executive Director of the office of development and alumni relations.
“You go to Penn State and they have the lion. … At UCONN, everyone pets the head of the Husky on the way into graduation. It’s just part of the campus tradition,” said Gustafson, “I think a lot of our alumni saw that and said, ‘I wish we had that when I was there.’”
President F. Javier Cevallos said he is “delighted” to have the statue on campus. He attributed the idea for the statue to two alumni, Janina and Nancy Swiacki, who are part of the Class of 1967 and ’68.
Nancy Swiacki said after taking a walk around campus three years ago, they asked administrators, “Do we have something on campus for the students to use as a symbol of the university?” They brought their idea for a statue to FSU staff and other alumni, including donor Robert Richards Jr., of the Class of 1983.
“So many people jumped on the bandwagon and wanted to support it,” said Janina Swiacki.
The Swiacki sisters and Richards helped the University commission artist Chris Williams to create the statue. Williams, a sculptor from Essex, has also created statues for Bridgewater State University and Salem State University.
“We talked about the strength of the piece and what would be the message behind it,” said Williams.
Robin Welch, program manager for 100 Males to College and member of the class of 1977, said, “I think that the statue is an excellent example of the fortitude, the strength and the dedication it takes to move a mountain.
“That’s what a lot of the students are doing – they’re recognizing that to obtain a quality education is not easy. … Rams are like that too. … They live in extraordinary conditions, but they always adapt.”
Several alumni at the ceremony recalled when the ram was first selected as FSU’s mascot in 1967 after a school-wide vote. The University was in the process of adding its first male sports teams after becoming coed only a few years earlier in 1964.
Amy Rotger, a senior, said, “I think it’s pretty awesome, especially being on a sports team. I think it helps show ‘We’re the Rams!’ and gives us awareness and team spirit.”
Jackie McCann, a senior, said, “I like where it’s located, since it kind of brings the campus together. It just kind of shows us who we are.”
A plaque was created and displayed at the ceremony to show the names of those who worked on the project, and the donors who gave over $1,000. The plaque will be added near the ram statue later, after an appropriate sized boulder is found for it.
According to Gustafson, the Ram Statue Fund remains a gift option on the alumni website for future “repairs” and “upkeep.”