An outsized, bronze-cast kangaroo statue will be formally revealed on April 26 by UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal on University Walkway near the Miller Nichols Learning Center.
UMKC’s Student Government Association commissioned local visual artist Tom Corbin to create the metal kangaroo. Both members of the SGA and Corbin will be attending the unveiling ceremony which marks the first sizable in-person and on-campus event in more than a year.
“We are excited to welcome the statue home, as it is a literal symbol of what it means to be a Roo,” said SGA President Mahreen Ansari. “Having a statue on campus like other universities is really cool and will hopefully increase school spirit.”
The statue is based on UMKC’s kangaroo mascot and another Corbin-commissioned kangaroo statuette that the Alumni Association has used for its annual high-achieving alumni award. The SGA had to receive special permission from the Alumni Governing Board to commission the art installation, as the Alumni Association owned the copyright to the design.
Former SGA Comptroller Jaelon Brooks presented concept art and a plan to commission the statue in April 2019 as a gift on behalf of the SGA in honor of Agrawal’s investiture.
“It will be a special, new and iconic symbol for the campus,” said Brooks. “A new point of pride that the entire community can enjoy forever.”
The cost of the statue is not publicly available at this time as the artist’s company, Corbin Bronze, does not disclose pricing information. The SGA, Alumni Association and UMKC strategic communications department declined to comment or did not know the cost of the project. Online estimates of a large commissioned bronze statue range from $10,000 to $100,000.
According to sources close to the project, the statue was paid for by an unnamed private donor and will not deplete the public funds used for scholarships or grants. Nonetheless, some students have voiced displeasure.
“It’s a complete waste. Why not put working air conditioning in the gym or fix our square-shaped track or try to lure international festivals and events by having a theater to screen films?” said film studies major Garrett Gunderson. “That money could have been used better by any program.”
Agrawal has emphasized enrollment growth since becoming chancellor and views campus beautification as part of growth efforts that are key to his 10-year plan for UMKC.
“We cannot grow our enrollment if our campus is not an attractive and inviting physical space,” said Agrawal,“We cannot develop a vital sense of belonging among students if we do not have a physical environment that encourages people to stay on campus.”