Bronze owl statue commemorated


August PelliccioPhoto Editor

With its wings spread and eyes focused ahead, the bronze owl in front of Engleman Hall has been installed for months with no identifying plaque or installation celebration. Until President Joe Bertolino officially cut the ribbon and kicked off Giving Day last week.

The 125th Anniversary Owl Statue is now complemented by a bronze panel embossed with the date April 16, 2019, the fourth annual Giving Day. Bertolino said he was pleased to officially hold a dedication.

“It’s symbolic of who we are and who we hope to be,” said Bertolino.

The celebration of school spirit centered on the statue at first, but also included the school Mascot, Otus, and four other owls brought on campus by A Place Called Hope, a rehabilitation center for birds of prey that is located in Killingworth, Conn.

“One of our graduate students knows about A Place Called Hope, and we thought it would be wonderful and very appropriate to have live owls on campus,” said Kaitlin Ingerick, director of annual giving.

Christine Cummings, co-founder and president of the sanctuary, said one of the birds they brought to the event was a great horned owl, the  same species that represents the school as its official mascot. This owl has a wingspan of just over four feet, she said, which is average for the species.

Ingerick said when she initially reached out to the sanctuary, they were eager to participate in the day’s events.

“They thought it was a wonderful idea,” she said. “Then when we told them it was for an owl statue dedication, they were very excited, so they were more than willing to come out.”

Ingerick said between the temperate weather, the live birds and the general turnout of students, it was “a perfect fit” to honor the bronze owl statue.

According to Bertolino, a more permanent plaque will be installed after it undergoes a weatherproofing process, and then the work of art will be complete. He said he wants graduating seniors, prospective freshmen and all students alike to cherish the statue and spread its image through photography.

“It’s a symbol of pride,” Bertolino said. “Every other institution has one, and I think it’s important that we have one too.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Roland Regos, assistant to the president.

Regos said having an icon for the mascot represents school spirit, but the statue means more than that.

“The owl is representative of Southern, but [also] of knowledge and wisdom,” Regos said.

“Having that directly next to the library is very symbolic.”

Regos said he has been walking past the owl for months now, so having an opportunity to celebrate its arrival to campus was due.

Bertolino said the installation was a surprise to many students, but they got acclimated to it quickly, and it has already become a visual landmark on the campus.

“For the most part, students just take pictures with it,” Bertolino said. “Between now and commencement, there will be a lot of picture taking here, I think.”

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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