University of Minnesota
September 23, 2013
Goldy, the mascot, and Nicholas Legeros, the artist, stand on either side of Goldy, the statue, which was unveiled on September 23.
The U unveils a life-sized statue of Goldy Gopher outside of Coffman Union
Goldy Gopher’s legend is already large. National champion mascot, accomplished skater and scooter rider, and furry creature that never fails to get smiles and high-fives from kids and grown-ups alike.
And now our legendary, golden mascot has been immortalized in bronze. On Monday, to help kick off Homecoming week, the University unveiled a six-foot-tall statue of Goldy outside of Coffman Memorial Union.
The statue, in the works for more than two years and constructed out of bronze as well as maroon granite, was designed and sculpted by artist Nicholas Legeros—a U of M alumnus with a master’s degree in fine arts. Legeros has produced several statues around the Twin Cities metro area.
“When you look around campus for the personality with the highest energy, the most fun disposition, the most flexible neck muscles, and the greatest school spirit, it’s my personal friend, Goldy,” said President Eric Kaler a minute before the unveiling. “I’ve never heard Goldy say a bad word about anyone, for Goldy’s silence is golden … or maroon and golden.”
Kaler also read a proclamation from Gov. Mark Dayton, which concluded: “Now, therefore, I, Mark Dayton, Governor of Minnesota, do hereby proclaim Monday, September 23, as Goldy Gopher Day.” Added Kaler: “And that’s official.”
Nicholas Legeros has a master of fine arts degree from the University of Minnesota. For more than 20 years he was an artist-in-residence and instructor at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts. He also taught for Metropolitan State University, Breck Schools, and the Edina Art Center. Ten years ago Legeros left teaching to pursue a full-time career as a sculptor.
The actual unveiling drew loud cheers from the students and other fans of Goldy who had gathered outside the east door to Coffman Union on a gorgeous day—the first full day of autumn and, it turns out, Kaler’s birthday.
Goldy the statue is dressed in an old-school collegiate sweater, has very prominent—if not overly fierce—teeth, and bears the customary broad grin. And students have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the newest piece of art on campus. Overheard last Friday was one student saying to her friend at Coffman, “It’s going to be so fun to take pictures next to that!”
Fundraising for the statue was student-driven and also included contributions from many alumni, donors, staff, faculty, and even campus visitors. All donations were completely voluntary, and the Offices of Student Affairs and Dean of Students agreed to match all funds up to $50,000. The total cost for materials and sculptor compensation was approximately $95,000.
Replicas of the Goldy statue, created and signed by Legeros, will be available for purchase from the University of Minnesota. For more information on the replicas, visit the University of Minnesota Bookstore at Coffman Memorial Union or online.
And, in case you were wondering, the Goldy statue’s head does not spin.
Homecoming kicks off
The statue unveiling was one of the first events of Homecoming Week. The U has been celebrating Homecoming since 1914, and 99 years later the festivities include a campus-wide scavenger hunt, cheer and lip sync competitions, community service events, pep rallies, the Homecoming parade and, of course, the football game Saturday against Iowa—the annual battle for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. For more information, see Homecoming.
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org