The Orion

New Wildcat statue funded exclusively from donations

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The fencing will be up in front of Bell Memorial Union until the statue's unveiling on April 19 Photo credit: Lizzie Helmer

The fencing will be up in front of Bell Memorial Union until the statue's unveiling on April 19 Photo credit: Lizzie Helmer

The fencing will be up in front of Bell Memorial Union until the statue's unveiling on April 19 Photo credit: Lizzie Helmer

Lizzie Helmer

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A new Wildcat statue is coming to Chico State and it’s funded in a way that’s the first of its kind. The about $145,000 necessary for the project came from a collaborative donations effort by the Alumni Association, Associated Students, athletics and the university. The project pulled no funds from state funding, student fees or tuition.

The biggest portion of the donations came from the Alumni Association.

“(The funds) were already in our endowment accounts that are there to be used for campus beautification,” said Sue Anderson, Assistant Vice President of Alumni and Parent Engagement.

$55,000 came from those endowment funds, while the second largest portion came from Associated Students, who contributed $50,000.

Mary Wallmark, Coordinator of Student Life and Leadership said that much of the money that A.S. contributed to the statue came from when they leased out the bookstore to Follet back in 2014. That money was specifically earmarked for campus projects.

“None of the money that you see here could be used for scholarships,” said Wallmark. “It’s just not that kind of money, it’s not in those kinds of accounts, they’re project based.”

Athletics contributed $15,000 to the project. The university contributed $25,000 from the campus beautification and unrestricted funds. Those funds from the university won’t go to the statue itself, but the installation, site work and new landscaping that’s going to be done around it.

“(The landscaping) was already on the list to do, just as part of our regular campus budget,” said Wallmark. “So hopefully we can keep within those $25,000, but if we need more money… we will specifically ask for fundraising money for that.”

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The physical statue itself cost $110,000. Chico State commissioned artist Matthew Gray Palmer to sculpt the statue from clay, then cast it in bronze. Palmer was chosen from about 40 applicants. He’s created the wildcat statues for the University of Kentucky, University of New Hampshire and Texas State University.

“(Palmer) visited campus, he met with a ton of different people, he looked at the look and feel of the campus,” said Wallmark.

Palmer then suggested six different poses, settling on the wildcat standing with front paws perched on a log, similar to the pose of the University of Kentucky statue.

“We wanted it to be like proud and protective and alert and realistic,” Wallmark said.

The statue will be built by the street-side entrance of the Bell Memorial Union. Anderson said that plans for this statue have been in the works since 2012, but one of the biggest delays was the indecisiveness on the location.

“Some of the previously identified locations were by Trinity Commons,” she said. “I think that some folks didn’t think that was ideal. So now it’s on Associated Students property.”

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Both Wallmark and Anderson said the point of installing a Wildcat statue is to start a new tradition at Chico State and to encourage wildcat pride.

“The alumni association wants to help develop traditions on campus for students and alumni alike,” said Anderson. “We feel that this wildcat is a wonderful symbol for the university. It’s gonna be here long after we’re all gone.”

Wallmark believes it’s up to the students to come up with a name for the statue and create the lore about it.

“Students that are here right now will be the ones who teach the incoming students. Like, do we rub its nose for good luck on test day?” she said.

The statue will be placed on April 16 and will be unveiled on April 19 at noon.

“It’s actually a really great partnership with athletics, Associated Students and alumni,” Anderson said. “We all feel the same way about Wildcat pride so we’re really all on the same page.”

Lizzie Helmer can be reached at newseditor@theorion.com or @lizziehelmer on Twitter.

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New Wildcat statue funded exclusively from donations