Bringing a Whale to Campus
With the help of many generous donors, UAS has purchased a 12-foot bronze sculpture of a Humpback Whale by renowned Alaskan artist R.T. “Skip” Wallen. Mr. Wallen received an Honorary Doctorate of the Arts from the University of Alaska Southeast in 2006. The sculpture will be the centerpiece of the newly designed Auke Lake campus courtyard (work is currently in progress).
The Humpback Whale: a UAS Tradition
While many schools choose mascot animals based on their fierceness or physical strength, other mascots convey decidedly different qualities. Here in Southeast Alaska, in addition to being a symbol of wildlife and conservation, the Humpback Whale is the epitome of grace, intelligence and natural beauty.
“In the midst of an increasingly diverse student population, mascots represent qualities that the school values and to which we all aspire. This is true even for schools without Athletic programs. For Alumni, mascots become a visual representation of their affiliation with the school that helped them become the person they are today.” – John R. Pugh , Chancellor
The University of Alaska Juneau (UAJ) first adopted the Humpback Whale as its mascot in 1980. The whale was retained after the restructuring into the University of Southeast (UAS) in 1987 to include the Ketchikan and Sitka campuses. A student contest was held to name the mascot and the whale has been known as “Spike” ever since.
Mascots: an American Tradition
Mascots are symbols of pride, loyalty and inspiration dating back to the American Civil War where many regiments had living mascots, the more famous of which were Sallie, the bull terrier of the 11th Pennsylvania, and Old Abe, the Bald Eagle of the 8th Wisconsin. After the war, the mascot tradition spread to colleges and universities when intercollegiate athletic games and rivalries emerged. Today, mascots are a recognizable face or personality for a school that add to school history, tradition and pride.