Friday, January 9, 2015

Montclair State University to spend $210K on mascot sculpture: Report

The second-largest public college in New jersey is facing some criticism from students and graduates after agreeing to spend more than $200,000 on a 12-foot bronze statue of its mascot.

Montclair State University has committed to spending the huge sum of money for the creation of the large sculpture depicting the school’s feathered symbol — Red Hawk.

According to a report, trustees at the university approved spending up to $225,000 on the sculpture of the Red Hawk at their October meeting. The commissioned statue will cost $210,000, and be installed in front of the Panzer Athletic Center before the start of the fall semester this year, the report said.

School officials say about $100,000 of the cost of the statue will be paid for by the Student Government Association, which is funded through mandatory student fees with the rest coming from university funds. About $4,000 will be paid for by  private donations.

School officials told that the statue is meant to foster a greater sense of community on campus, raise school spirit, and generate excitement around its Division III athletics program.

But some students said it also raises questions about spending at the university.

Costs and enrollment have risen steadily at New Jersey’s public colleges and universities over the past decade — tuition and fees average 40 percent higher than the national norm — as they have embarked on high-profile capital projects and acquisitions.

Critics have complained of a lack of fiscal oversight from Trenton as the largely autonomous schools pursued projects large and small designed to raise their profiles, from a $102 million football stadium expansion at Rutgers to a $219,000 Chinese-made conference table recently purchased by Kean University for a new conference center.

The Red Hawk is used as a symbol on brochures and ID cards, and even the campus diner is named for the mascot, said university spokeswoman Suzanne Bronski.

Bronski said symbols are important in society at large and on campus, noting the historic bell tower that she said is “making the days and evenings brighter for thousands of members of this community.”

The Red Hawk is being crafted by Hanlon Sculpture Studio, which has done other school mascots, including the Seton Hall Pirate and Florida International University’s Golden Panther.

The studio, based in New Jersey, also created the statue of Yogi Berra that sits outside the Yogi Berra Museum on the Montclair campus and the Miss America statue in Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

At least Red Hawk comes with a good pedigree.

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