HATTIESBURG, Mississippi — A major landscape project underway on the University of Southern Mississippi campus here will be accentuated by a towering golden eagle statue commissioned and donated by alumnus Chuck Scianna.
The bronze statue, designed by Idaho artist/sculptor David Anderson, will be positioned at the apex of the All-American Rose Garden that faces Hardy Street. The sculpture measures approximately 22-foot tall by 20-foot wide and will sit atop an 8-foot high pyramid-shaped base. A smaller version of the sculpture will be erected on the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, symbolically tying the campuses together.
“Southern Miss plays an important role in preparing young people to go out into the world and the idea was to have something on campus that would welcome them back to the nest, so to speak,” said Scianna, owner of a Texas oil industry supply company and major donor to the construction of USM’s new business school building.
“I have several versions of this eagle statue in and around my office. I love what it represents and I’m happy to be involved with this project.”
The official dedication of the eagle sculpture is scheduled for Oct. 24, two days before the Golden Eagles’ Homecoming football game against North Texas.
“We are extremely grateful for this gift and all that it says about the generosity of Southern Miss alumni, the ambition of this university, and the spirit of its people,” University President Rodney Bennett said. “Chuck often references Ross Perot who says that turkeys flock, but eagles soar.”
Scianna approached USM officials more than a year ago with the sculpture idea and initial plans called for the unveiling to take place during Founders’ Day festivities on April 1 of this year. However, the Feb. 10 tornado that struck the Hattiesburg campus put those plans on hold.
The sculpture placement has subsequently been incorporated into a Front Campus Landscape Restoration and Enhancement Plan the university began in mid-April. The landscape plan coincides with the USM Foundation’s Campus Beautification Campaign – a fundraising initiative to help defray costs of the restoration efforts. None of the money pledged to the beautification campaign was used to finance the eagle sculpture.
Scianna is president of Sim-Tex L.P., one of the leading suppliers of API-certified oil country tubular goods. A 1975 graduate, Scianna made a $6 million gift commitment toward construction of a new building for the College of Business. Named Scianna Hall, the 93,000-square-foot facility is under construction and set to open in fall 2014.
The second phase of the campus landscaping plan is underway – which includes building new sidewalks, seating areas and lighting for the renowned Rose Garden.