Life-Size Cougar Statue now on the Prowl at CSU

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- The cat is out of the bag.

Although not a secret per se, Columbus State University’s interest in erecting a cougar statue in commemoration of its 50th anniversary this year wasn’t widely known.

So Thursday, when workers began bolting down the 270-pound, life-size bronze statue of CSU’s mascot to a massive boulder recently moved to a site outside the Lumpkin Center, many motorists driving by the busy intersection did a double-take.

“Many faculty and students over the years have noticed that, although we’re the CSU cougars, we don’t have any cougar statues around campus,” said Terry Norris, associate vice president for academic affairs.

workers install cougar statue

“We came to the conclusion we wanted something that would symbolize we weren’t looking just at the past; we’re also looking toward the future,” said Norris, chair of the 50th Anniversary Commemoratives Subcommittee. “Notice that the cougar isn’t asleep or lying down. He’s alert and active – walking and majestic. He’s looking out to the future, to the distance, to see what’s going on and what’s ahead.”

Positioning the cougar in front of the Lumpkin Center “gives it high visibility and shows our `Cougar Pride’ to everyone attending sporting events or just strolling around campus,” Norris said.

After a yearlong search, the subcommittee recommended a $13,000 limited-edition statue created by Jesse Homoki of Prescott, Ariz. The patina of the statue is a unique, stable chemical compound but, like all bronze, will darken over time. With the help of McMath-Turner Construction Co. and Ensminger Crane Service, CSU Physical Plant administrators were able to locate, acquire at no cost and move a flat, 3-ton boulder into place to serve as the base for the cougar.

The statue will serve as the focal point for many “Kodak moments,” Norris said, because the boulder’s flat surface makes it possible for people to sit beside and stand around the statue. Because it’s within a few feet of a sidewalk leading to the Lumpkin Center, the cougar is also accessible for photos featuring people who use wheelchairs or have other mobility limitations.

“Icons can provide a focus for any university,” Norris said. “The Whitley clock tower is our best-known icon, but it is a challenge to photograph an individual and the clock tower together. We hope that Cougar pride will increase over the years, and past, present and future students will grow to love this icon.”