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University encourages new tradition with sculpture

September 16, 2021

A new falcon has come to campus and landed outside of Rodli Hall in the form of a sculpture. A variety of departments on campus gathered together to collaborate on this project to bring a new tradition to the River Falls space. Director of Career Services, Melissa Wilson, Executive Director of Admissions, Sarah Nelson, and Professor of Art, Dan Paulus were key partners on this project. 

Wilson and Nelson were in attendance and spoke to the crowd the morning of August 23, the opening day, where the sculpture was officially dedicated in front of Rodli Hall. “Together, Melissa and I have 47 combined years of experience working for UWRF and the UW System,” says Nelson, “both of us are proud Falcon alumni.” Wilson and Nelson both concluded that an important and impactful part of the UW-River Falls environment is the people. They discuss those within the community who are dedicated to supporting and serving future generations of students as being the inspiration for a new tradition on campus. 

As construction of Rodli hall was in the works, both Wilson and Nelson discussed how UWRF needed a new tradition, “We wanted something that would attract the attention of our campus visitors and current students alike.” Ideas circulated between the committee, such as painting the road red or getting a bronze mascot. Once funding had been acquired for the project things got serious. Nelson also mentioned that they chose to connect with the Art Department on campus to commission the project due to their knowledge of art and art history. 

Professor of Art Dan Paulus spoke about how the committee took charge and completed a generous amount of research to determine what they were looking for. “The research led to a list of terms that represented our school and the direction it is going in: creative, engaged, inclusive, distinctive, academic excellence, student centered, and innovative,” Paulus explained. The vision of the sculpture included something that can stand the test of time while also creating a new space for Falcon pride for students and faculty. 

The sculpture was meant to resemble a peregrine falcon, although it is not an exact representation. In the words of Paulus, “The committee did not choose the artist, but rather the artwork chose us.” Out of 115 applicants, “The committee eventually narrowed the pool down to three and chose Peter Busby,” Paulus explained, “for his artistic vision, craft, and the specific medium of steel rods.” The artist, Busby, describes his work as something that creates a sense of community. Community was a common theme throughout the process of what the committee was hoping to bring to campus for future and current Falcons. 

“This sculpture is now part of the legacy of UWRF, and we have a new tradition to share with the campus community,” said Wilson. Along with the presence of the sculpture, a tradition was born. Wilson and Nelson hope that, in the future, students will start their year by rubbing the falcon foot for good luck. “The sculpture will then take your wish to the skies and provide flight to this intention,” says Wilson, “As Falcons soar the sky, Falcon wishes and ideas will take flight.” They asked the new Chancellor, Mario Gallo, to have the honor of making the first wish to establish the tradition for future falcons on campus.