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What happened to the eagle?

Renee Borcas, Media Content Editor

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When students returned to campus this fall, it was nearly impossible to miss the sidewalk construction project that changed the look of the intersection at Claremont Ave., King Road and College Ave.

By the time of its completion, one of the most obvious changes from the renovation was the disappearance of the large eagle statue that had overlooked the intersection.

Where there once was an eagle with bronze wings stretched broadly in flight, construction has made way for a bigger pedestrian landing zone.

Vice President of Facilities Management and Planning, Rick Ewing, said the statue is currently in storage while the Facilities Planning Committee comes to a consensus on where and when to place it. Now the area has another eagle in its place—one of the small, purple and white statues. The added seal in the backdrop is also a piece of university history. According to Ewing, it was once embedded in the pavement in front of the Rec Center before being unearthed and placed in storage after a number of students had slipped on it.

While the bronze eagle statue may have been a staple of the area to recent students, it has only been added within the last 10 years.

“It hadn’t been there for a long time, so it wasn’t this traditional piece that had been on campus for decades,” said Ewing.

He said President Finks, the 28th president of AU who retired in May 2015, found the eagle while he was traveling out West and purchased it as a piece for the university. Ewing said that while the statue appears unique, it is not one of a kind.

“He saw it in a gallery or store and loved the presentation. It was an eagle in flight and he thought that we could find a good place for it on campus,” said Ewing. “He brought it back and we talked about various places to put it. At the time, we didn’t have anything planned for the front intersection over here, and that seemed to be a good spot for it.”

When the eagle was placed, Ewing said he felt cautious that the placement would encourage vandalism. During its reign, it did fall victim to being defaced once, but had otherwise remained untouched.

Ewing said he is not aware how much the eagle cost the university when it was initially purchased, but he did not want to see it sit around in storage.

Since the construction, the committee has been in talks about where to place the statue. They do not vote on the placement, but rather come to an agreement through conversation.

“We want people to see it. It’s a nice piece. It should be some place where it’s not stuck,” said Ewing.

He said the contenders include the rose garden between the library and Patterson, and any of the other entrance points to the university.

The rose garden is an ideal placement because the large spruce tree that sits there often takes too much sunlight away from the plants. The only hesitation with that placement would be the close proximity to the statue in front of the library.

Another placement the committee is considering is at the King Road and Samaritan Ave. intersection. Ewing said that they were more hesitant about this placement because Facilities intends to do more development there in the future of their master plan.

As a result of that, the rose garden is the current frontrunner for the placement of the eagle.

If the committee is able to agree on placing the statue there, the biggest decision that remains is whether the installation should be attempted before winter or to wait until spring comes.

Ewing emphasised that once the project is started, he wants to be able to finish it.

“As we get into this kind of weather, it’s harder to make things look nice,” he said. “And I don’t want it to just be there without being able to do the whole project, so at this point, my guess is that it probably won’t be until the spring semester that we get it out.”

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