Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

New bench adorns University Center

Nov. 20, 2013

By Jacqueline Schaefer

The most recent art installation on campus is one that exemplifies school spirit, former athletic director Paul Plinske said.

And what better to symbolize UW-Whitewater pride than the bird himself:Plinske
Willie the Warhawk.

A life-size bronze statue of Willie the Warhawk leaning on a bench was installed in the University Center on Oct. 28.

The sculpture cost around $40,000, and the funding for the project came from several sources. About half the funding came from program fees and departmental carryover, while the rest of the funds stemmed from gift funding and Res Life.

Sculptor Virgil Oertle from Salt Lake City, Utah, designed the mascot bench that now resides next to the Beans coffee shop, across from Graham Street Café.

The mascot bench was Plinske’s idea. He said Oertle emailed him with the proposal, causing Plinske to become interested in bringing something to campus that could bring a sense of community.

“I wanted the mascot bench to be a great source of pride, not only for athletics, but the entire university,” Plinske said. “I knew we needed a way to celebrate our mascot and create a permanent feature that people could see, touch and embrace.”

The mascot bench also can be used to showcase Whitewater’s mascot and give visitors a symbol to remember Whitewater by.

“The mascot bench concept enables people to capture their own photos with Willie. It’s a great way to market the university and bring excitement to our campus,” Plinske said.

The mascot bench was originally going to be placed outside, but due to weather concerns was ultimately placed in the UC.

“I worked with the staff on campus to find a location for the bench,” UC Director Bob Barry said. “We wanted a high traffic area that visitors come to, and we thought the UC was the logical place.”

In order to make room for the bench, a bulletin board was relocated and additional ceiling lighting was added. The seating previously located there has been moved elsewhere in the UC.

Plinske said he hoped the statue would bring school pride to the students at Whitewater.

“I think the statue represents our university,” freshman Grace Devine said. “It makes me feel more school spirited and adds a nice touch to the UC.”

Freshman Marlee Williams agrees.

“It looks cool, and it makes me feel more school spirit while I’m in the UC,” Williams said.

The planning for the mascot bench started in January 2013 with the hopes of having the bench completed and on campus for Homecoming.

“I’m happy with the attention the bench draws to the UC,” Barry said. “People are drawn to it and take pictures of it. The first weekend it was here was Homecoming, and many students and parents stopped to look.”

The mascot bench provides an image of pride and unity for Whitewater.

“Before the mascot bench, Whitewater didn’t have a central, photographic, recognizable icon,” Barry said. “Now we have an icon that will become a memorable location on campus.”

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Founded 1901
New bench adorns University Center