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Student-voted sculpture to be unveiled on campus on Oct. 5

From Yale’s “Handsome Dan” the bulldog to Penn State’s out-of-commission Coach Paterno, the role of iconic on-campus statues have made their mark on the college scene. And the University of South Dakota is no exception.

Weighing in at 300 pounds, a life-size coyote statue will make its way to the USD campus Oct. 5, during an 11:30 a.m. Dakota Days dedication ceremony on the lawn campus corridor along Cherry Street.

A student initiative that first originated within the Student Government Association, the   sculpture was an original design by 2010 USD graduate Cameron Stalheim.

Stalheim’s design was chosen from five finalists by students, and was ultimately approved by USD President James Abbott. A fellow university alumnus, Abbott said that to many USD graduates he’s met, Charlie the Coyote is a major representation of their first few years away from home.

“Charlie is a point of pride for students and alum,” Abbott said. “It’s difficult to put into words what it symbolizes, but to me, it represents the spirit of the school.”

Named “Legacy” by the artist, the 20-piece bronze sculpture was poured in Sioux Falls at BronzeAge Art Casting. While Stalheim was awarded almost $30,000 for his winning design, $20,000 of his earnings was put toward sculpture expenses.

The total cost of the project is about $50,000, reports Larry Schou, the dean of USD’s College of Fine Arts.  The rest of the funds not given to the artist will go to implementing a base and lighting to the statue’s location.

Aside from its physical presence at USD, its dedication will be a stirring event for alumni to see, Kersten Johnson, executive director of the Alumni Association, said.

“It’s a way to tie groups together, so it won’t matter if you are a graduate from 2003 or a graduate from 1956,” Johnson said. “It’s a shared pride for the university, and within time, an iconic landmark for USD.”

A step forward in preserving and creating university traditions, the statue is unifying for SGA President Alissa VanMeeteren, a senior.

“It’s not necessarily the material aspect of the sculpture that gives me pride,” VanMeeteren said. “It’s the symbol it carries for Coyote athletics, for USD academics and organizations, that resonates.”