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Maverick Monument Unleashed

Incoming freshmen weren’t the only ones who received a warm welcome to campus at the start of UNO’s fall semester.

Maverick Monument got a rousing reception, too.

An estimated 1,000 students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends on Aug. 24 helped “Unleash” Maverick Monument, the 8-foot-tall, 1,600-pound bronze mascot statue the UNO Alumni Association presented to campus in commemoration of the association’s 100th anniversary.

The official dedication ceremony followed the university’s New Student Convocation, an annual welcome reception this year attended by 750 students. Afterward, guests filled the new Maverick Monument plaza in front of the Lee and Helene Sapp Fieldhouse and Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) Building.

The high-energy Unleashing featured music by the UNO Marching Band, performances by UNO Cheerleaders and hundreds of people rattling Maverick Monument cowbells distributed prior to the ceremony.

“Is this awesome or what?” UNO Chancellor John Christensen asked while pointing to the statue. “This is absolutely incredible.”

The first mascot statue in the University of Nebraska system, Maverick Monument is expected to become an enduring campus icon sparking new traditions and offering interactive photo opportunities for students, alumni, visitors and media. Already, people have been seen taking “selfies” with the statue nearly every day since its installation

“This bronze Maverick will be a symbol of our Maverick mojo, showing the determination, pride and success of UNO students and alumni and of the opportunities that lay before them,” said student Ben Kaipust, who pushed for the project’s completion, first as a student senator then as student vice president.

The Unleashing ceremony featured remarks by Seattle-area artist Jocelyn Russell, who created the monument. A committee of students, alumni, faculty and staff in June 2013 chose Russell to create the monument. Chancellor Christensen made her and her husband, Michael Dubail, honorary Mavericks, thanking the artist for “her deep commitment to this project since day 1.”

He also called UNO “A place of independent and creative thinking.”

“We are unconventional and clearly chart our own course for this campus and our engagement with the community,” Christensen said. “We are indeed Mavericks. Now, after 40-some years, we have a symbol that represents that spirit as we charge forward to becoming a world-class metropolitan university.”

Also speaking were UNO Alumni Association President Lee Denker and Alumni Association Chairman of the Board David Craft. Denker thanked faculty and staff, alumni and students for making the project possible while Craft cited various donors. Nearly 150 individuals, groups and organizations have contributed to the monument project, their names engraved on a Sioux Quartzite donor recognition wall that’s part of the plaza.

A free BBQ for guests followed the Unleashing, which was covered by print and TV media.

See photo slideshows of the Maverick Monument Unleashing on Aug. 24 and its Installation earlier in the month via Flickr.