Abe waiting for his close-up — with you — on campus

Abe waiting for his close-up — with you — on campus

URBANA — Alma Mater may still be on hiatus, but University of Illinois students have a new campus photo op with a pretty well-known historical figure.

A life-size bronze sculpture of Abraham Lincoln was installed last week outside the Alice Campbell Alumni Center on, appropriately, Lincoln Avenue in Urbana.

It was a gift to the Alumni Association from Gail Kellogg, a 1965 UI graduate and Lincoln aficionado who received the sculpture several years ago from her husband.

Kellogg said she had planned to leave the statue to the university in her will, but sped up the timetable after touring the renovated Lincoln Hall last fall while in town for a UI Foundation board meeting.

"As I was leaving I thought, 'Oh my goodness, my Lincoln should be somewhere here on campus. What am I waiting for?'" she said Thursday from her home in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

The "Lincoln" sculpture is one of several castings by Colorado sculptor Mark Lundeen, whose brother George created the Harold "Red" Grange statute west of Memorial Stadium, she said.

It features Lincoln seated comfortably on a bench, holding notes from the last paragraph of his 1865 second inaugural address, etched in bronze and in his handwriting, which begins, "With malice toward none, with charity for all. ..."

Kellogg had toured the Lundeens' studio and foundry with a group of other UI alumni and admired the statue, and her husband bought it for her in 2005.

"I've had a longtime interest in Lincoln," said Kellogg, who was born in Illinois and has a Lincoln library in her home. "This sculpture is just so lifelike and wonderful."

Lincoln previously sat on the covered front porch of the Kelloggs' home in Colorado. It's a beautiful location, she said, but it's a cul-de-sac so nobody sees the sculpture except people who come up on her porch, and "they're startled," she said.

Kellogg initially thought the statue should go outside Lincoln Hall. But UI officials suggested the alumni center, which Kellogg had contributed to, and she liked the fact that it was on Lincoln Avenue.

The statue is "very human and approachable," and Kellogg hopes it will encourage interest in Lincoln, his writings and his life's work.

UI officials said the sculpture is an appropriate addition to campus, given Lincoln's ties to the state and his creation of the land-grant university system.

The bronze and ironwood artwork sits at the east entrance of the alumni center, 601 S. Lincoln Ave., and is expected to be a popular photo opportunity for students, alumni and visitors to campus.

The alumni center hosts 3,000 graduates and their families each spring for "Gradfest," and "they are taking their pictures with anything that moves and doesn't move. I think they'll get a kick out of having this," said Vanessa Faurie, vice president of corporate communications for the Alumni Association.

Kellogg envisions people sitting on the bench with Lincoln, taking pictures with their kids and interacting with the sculpture. With the Alma Mater sculpture on leave until next spring, "this will be the place to get a photo for a while."

"Gail's generosity adds an appropriate presence that will only enhance the loyalty and pride alumni have for the university — and that future alumni will have," Alumni Association President and CEO Loren Taylor said in a release.

Kellogg is a retired partner and now consultant of Hewitt Associates, a global resources consulting and outsourcing firm, and lives in both Steamboat Springs and Chicago.

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