Monday, September 11, 2006
Center for Champions, Grizz statue unveiled
|(From left to right) Interim Athletic Director Greg Kampe, OU women's basketball player Nicole Piggott, OU Trustee Dennis Pawley, OU President Gary Russi, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Virinder Moudgil and Associate Director of Athletics Tracy Huth cut the ribbon opening the Grizzly Center for Graduates and Champions. |
Oakland’s Athletics Department took center stage Sept. 6 during a two-pronged event that introduced the Grizzly Center for Graduates and Champions and the new "Grizz" sculpture.
Hundreds of student-athletes joined the Oakland community at the Athletics Center for the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Grizzly Center. The center will offer academic counseling, individual and small group tutoring, study sessions, a computer lab and a quiet reading area.
“Our student-athletes compete hard, study hard and devote countless hours to mentoring in surrounding schools,” said OU President Gary Russi. “Going forward, the new Grizzly Center for Graduates and Champions will assist our student-athletes in pursuing their academic interest area to the best of their abilities.”
The crowd broke into applause when Virinder Moudgil, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, spoke of Oakland’s outstanding student-athletes.
“Our women’s basketball team was named to the 2005-06 Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Oakland, ranking seventh on the honor roll, was the only Division I team from the state of Michigan in the top 25. And, this is on top of going to the NCAA Tournament last March,” Moudgil said.
In addition, Moudgil said, Oakland had 112 student-athletes named to the winter/spring 2006 Mid-Continent Conference All Academic team, the most of any school in the Mid-Con league. To be selected for the team, a student-athlete must achieve a 3.0 or better cumulative GPA and be a letter winner in the sport for which he or she is nominated.
“These are impressive accomplishments and a testament to the dedication and commitment of our student-athletes,” said Moudgil.
Greg Kampe, interim athletic director and men’s basketball coach, presented Nicole Piggott with the Mid Con Scholar Athlete award.
“On behalf of our student-athletes, I’d like to thank President Russi, Provost Moudgil, Greg Kampe and Tracy Huth for supporting the concept for the Grizzly Center, and allocating the funding to make this possible,” said Piggott. “It means we can maximize our time for studying in the midst of road trips and hectic schedules that can make it challenging to devote the time we’d like to our studies.”
Long Awaited Grizz Mascot Unveiled
Five years ago, Oakland students began the hunt for a Grizzly bear – a mascot to symbolize student spirit and OU athletics team achievement.
|"The Grizz" statue is unveiled at an OU Pep Rally on Sept. 6.|
The university, students and OU Student Congress raised more than $35,000 to bring the bronze sculpture, weighing nearly a ton and standing eight feet tall, to campus.
“This sculpture now gives us an icon that says ‘This is Oakland University,’” said Russi. The sculpture was unveiled while the pep band played and Golden Grizzly athletes and fans cheered.
The "Grizz" statue was created by world-renowned sculptors Istva’n Ma’te and Gyorgyi Lantos, parents of former OU swimmer Hunor Ma’te.
“This is especially exciting for me personally to see an idea that originated with Oakland students five years ago grow to attract the interest of world-renowned sculptors who had a connection to our university,” said Mary Beth Snyder, vice president for Student Affairs.
A plaza was created especially for the "Grizz" statue in front of the Athletics Center. Tim Casai and Dave Larson of TMP Architects donated the design of the area.
“I would like to express my thanks to the sculptors, who live and work in Hungary, for their amazing piece of art,” said Russi. “They donated their time and artistic talent to create this impressive sculpture. It is a notable and distinctive gift.”