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Article updated: 5/24/2013 9:36 AM

8-foot chaparral sculpture finds home at College of DuPage

An 8-foot sculpture of a chaparral has been installed on the College of DuPage campus in Glen Ellyn. The bronze depiction of the college’s mascot is the latest piece in the college’s marketing strategy.

An 8-foot sculpture of a chaparral has been installed on the College of DuPage campus in Glen Ellyn. The bronze depiction of the college's mascot is the latest piece in the college's marketing strategy.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

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Students rushing to class at College of DuPage may have been in such a hurry that they missed it: an 8-foot bronze sculpture of a chaparral has been installed on the school's Glen Ellyn campus.

The chaparral, also known as a roadrunner, isn't common to Illinois, but it has been the COD mascot since the school's founding in 1967 when students hustled to and from 40 various leased classroom sites throughout DuPage County.

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Now the state's largest community college, COD is in the midst of a $550 million campus building program that's considerably changed the face of campus. At the same time, COD President Robert Breuder has placed a greater emphasis on branding the college as a "hybrid" institution that could be comparable to a state university.

The chaparral statue is the latest piece in the college's marketing strategy, and officials have said it will help create a unifying spirit on campus.

The chaparral bird logo already is featured on signs throughout campus and on athletic team jerseys.

The statue, created by Omaha, Neb., sculptor Matthew Placzek, was unveiled this month at its permanent location outside the school's Student Services Center.

Placzek was commissioned by the college in August to create the work after Breuder received a promotional postcard in the mail from Placzek that depicted a mascot sculpture he did for Creighton University. Breuder discussed the possibility of a chaparral statue with members of the Student Leadership Committee, who decided to fund 51 percent of the sculpture's $54,000 cost with student activity fees. The remainder of the cost is being funded through the college's construction budget.

During the design phase, Placzek talked with Breuder to get an idea of what he was looking for.

"I really wanted to portray movement, the fierceness of the eye, and competitive spirit," Placzek said.

Once the initial sketch was approved, Placzek created the 3-D version in his Omaha studio by using a steel support structure, then forming the feathers, beak and other distinctive features with clay. After a mold of the chaparral was made, it was cast in bronze.

In total, the statue took nine months to create.

"I've had a tremendous response from the college," Placzek said. "I'm thrilled they're pleased."

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