U asks students for donations for $95,000 Goldy statue outside Coffman

The University still needs about $40,000 for the project, and the Office for Student Affairs will match donations.

Goldy strikes a pose along with sculptor Nicholas Legeros and his son Alex at the planned site of the Goldy statue Friday in front of Coffman Union.

Mark Vancleave

Goldy strikes a pose along with sculptor Nicholas Legeros and his son Alex at the planned site of the Goldy statue Friday in front of Coffman Union.

Andrew Krammer

The University of Minnesota unveiled a prototype of a Goldy Gopher statue Friday outside Coffman Union and asked for students’ help in funding the real thing.

The $95,000 project will be funded through student and alumni donations, with the Office for Student Affairs matching funds raised up to $50,000.

The Office for Student Affairs will use discretionary funds from the University’s beverage contract with Coca-Cola to help build the statue. It will take approximately eight to 10 months to build once funding is secured.

“We’re over halfway there,” said Ashley Kaser, program coordinator for the University’s student program board. “There will be no Coke brand on it; we want it to be the students’ statue.”

Nearly $50,000 has been raised since July 2011, with select alumni adding larger donations. Former Minnesota Alumni Association CEO Margaret Carlson made a donation of a few thousand dollars.

Kaser said the idea sprung up during President Eric Kaler’s inauguration. A student engagement committee came up with the idea to “build community on campus,” Kaser said. “If everyone is chipping in, everyone has part ownership.” 

The student program board kicked off this year’s fundraising campaign outside of Coffman on Friday, selling $2 bracelets, with $1.80 from each going toward the statue.

“The University has been kind of lacking in [athletics tradition],” Minnesota alumnus Dave Goebel said. “We’ve never had an iconic thing we’ve been able to go to like many other institutions have.

“I think [this statue] will serve that purpose very well.”

Goebel, 53, graduated from Minnesota in 1981. He bought a $2 bracelet and made an additional unspecified donation on his own.

But not all were buying it.

“We already have all of those student services fees. I don’t see a reason to donate for the statue,” University sophomore Andrew Ihrke said.

Ihrke, 19, from Byron, Minn., has Gophers football season tickets and said it wasn’t the lack of school spirit that kept him from donating.

“I already pay [thousands of dollars] a year to go here,” he said. “I just don’t see why students need to pay for it.”

The statue will be placed in the northeast corner outside of Coffman. Kaser said the plants will be removed to make way for the statue and stairs leading up to it.

Throughout the year, Kaser said the student board will be at any kind of University event — sports or not — selling the $2 bracelets.

“[The bracelets] are our main fundraising effort right now,” she said. “We still need about $40,000 more.”

Some University students view the $2 bracelets as a modest donation to improve tradition on campus.

“If only I had cash,” Medical School student Peter Lind said. “Two bucks is nothing.”