Alma Mater returning to campus in April

By Daily Illini Staff Report

The iconic Alma Mater statue will make its way back to the campus in early April.

James Lev, architect in the Office of Capital Programs and chairman of the campus Architectural Review Committee, said about a half a dozen pieces are waiting to be finished, but the 83-year-old statue is about 80 percent re-assembled and should be back in time for Commencement.

However, she may look a little different than how most students remember her.

“The features of the sculpture are easier to define with the cleaning up and the removal of the corrosion from the surface, so you don’t get that high contrast green and black streaking on the features like you have before,” Lev said.

In 2012, an inspection by the University’s Preservation Working Group concluded that the statue needed to be repaired after suffering from years of water damage, corrosion and air pollution, which compromised the structural integrity and color of the sculpture.

The Alma Mater was lifted in August 2012 to begin the restoration project. The project entailed taking the statue apart, replacing bolts and giving it a laser cleaning.

The project was originally anticipated to be completed in May 2013, but when experts saw the extent of the corrosion, more repairs had to be done than previously planned.

Lev said several groups are planning to throw welcome back celebrations. There will be a rededication ceremony of sorts in June for the Alma Mater’s birthday, he added.

“I’m sure our students — especially those who are graduating this spring — will be excited to have Alma home for Commencement pictures,” campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler in an email.

Originally, the project was estimated to cost $100,000, but the price increased to $360,000 in reparations, Lev said.

“It’s taken much longer than we thought it would, but the work that’s been done is going to ensure that statue is going to be around for another 100 years,” he said.