Johnson & Wales University’s “Newest” Wildcat Arrives at Harborside Campus

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Johnson & Wales University has commissioned a bronze statue to capture campus spirit. The statue's characteristics represent JWU Wildcat Way: pride, courage, character, and community.

Johnson & Wales University is welcoming its newest “wildcat” to the Harborside Campus – a 12-foot-long bronze statue of a wildcat looking intently toward the horizon as it ascends a rock. The statue is anchored on a low-rise pedestal, encouraging students to sit on the bench-like perimeter. The sculpture weighs in at 5,000 pounds with its pedestal at 44,000 pounds, creating a monument of just under 50,000 pounds.

MEDIA NOTE: The JWU Wildcat has been installed and the surrounding area will be prepared for viewing on Friday, October 17. To make coverage arrangements, please contact Lisa Pelosi at 401-598-1848 or (cell) 401-258-1113.

“From the start, we wanted to create a public art sculpture that would invite student and visitor interaction,” said Kathleen Harney, JWU’s First Lady and liaison to the university’s Public Art Committee. “Just as importantly, we wanted the design to embody the four tenets of the Johnson & Wales’ Wildcat Way: pride, courage, character and community. The statue’s confident pose is inspiring to our students as they strive to achieve their goals and dreams, while sitting on the pedestal gives them a spot for quiet reflection. We are so pleased to welcome the newest wildcat to our campus as we conclude our centennial year celebration.”

Johnson & Wales’ campuses in North Miami, Fla.; Denver, Colo.; and Charlotte, N.C. also will welcome identical wildcat statues in the coming months. The wildcat has been the JWU mascot since the 1960s, though in the early 1990s until 1997, a griffin (a mythological figure) served temporarily as the school’s mascot.

In early 2013, the university formed a Public Art Committee to determine how best to promote spirit and engagement on campus as JWU planned its centennial celebration. The services of Roger Mandle, president emeritus of the Rhode Island School of Design, were engaged and a committee comprised of staff, faculty and student representatives was assembled with the charge to develop a formalized plan for public art at all campuses of Johnson & Wales.

The selection of a sculptor and design of the wildcat statue was the committee’s first major task. A rising, young artist named Mike Fields of Washington state was chosen by the committee. He worked closely with the Public Art Committee on the design, utilizing a computer software program that allowed him to make quick iterations and composition modifications in response to their feedback. His previous work includes a cougar monument commissioned for Washington State University. Detailed photographs of the design and creation of the statue can be found here.

Founded in 1914, Johnson & Wales University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with approximately 17,000 graduate, undergraduate and online students at its four campuses in Providence, R.I.; North Miami, Fla.; Denver, Colo.; and Charlotte, N.C. An innovative educational leader, the university offers degree programs in arts and sciences, business, culinary arts, education, nutrition, hospitality and technology. Its unique model integrates arts and sciences and industry-focused education with work experience and leadership opportunities, inspiring students to achieve professional success and lifelong personal growth. The university’s impact is global, with alumni from 152 countries pursuing careers worldwide.

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