New Statue and Award Announced at the University of Missouri

Rendering of Winged Sphere Status
Rendering of the Winged Sphere Statue

A new statue honoring the University of Missouri’s history and recognizing the institution’s mission will be placed in Jesse Hall. The Winged Sphere statue will carry the message, which aligns with the mission of the university, that “Scholarship and teaching are daily driven by a sense of public service—the obligation to produce and disseminate knowledge that will improve the quality of life in the state, the nation and the world.”

The announcement was made during the QEBH Alumni Luncheon on April 18 at the Reynolds Alumni Center. Members of QEBH, the oldest recognized secret honor society at MU, have been leading the charge in the statue’s development. The Winged Sphere is the symbol of the QEBH society and resembles the wings that once donned the dome of Jesse Hall. The idea of creating the statue originally surfaced nearly 15 years ago and has since been taken over by recent QEBH classes.

The winged sphere first appeared at the University of Missouri in 1895 with the completion of the new Academic Hall (today known as Jesse Hall).

The meaning of the Winged Sphere was written in a letter from W.L. Garver, who was the assistant architect and superintendent for the construction of Academic Hall. A portion of the letter read: “When placed upon the dome of the University at Columbia, it was accompanied by the invocation to the omnipresent spiritual sun for light, truth, enlightenment and spiritual power to rise from this institution as upon the wings of the eagle and be carried to all members of the world.”

The Winged Sphere is a symbol of spirit, power, life, light and intelligence. The wings represent motion, swift and uplifting.

“QEBH members have been working for years on this campus service project, so to see it come to fruition is amazing,” said QEBH President Rachael Newman, a senior education major from Jefferson City, Mo. “The statue will serve as a reminder of our University’s mission and the responsibility of all those who pass through its ranks.”

While there are many stories of how the wings were removed, one of the more prominent stories is of a patriotic student who climbed to the top of the cupola to hang an American flag during World War I. The weight of the flag caused the wings to break.

Sculptor Jim Calvin is working on a design for the statue that will be made of bronze and will appear as close to the original Winged Sphere, as depicted in the New Academic Hall architectural designs found in Jesse Hall.

The funds needed to construct and place the statue will be raised by the current QEBH members.

A new award has been established to recognize individuals who embody the spirit of the Winged Sphere. The recipients of the first Winged Sphere Awards are Brady Deaton, chancellor emeritus of the University of Missouri, and Mike Alden, director of athletics at Mizzou.

In November, Deaton retired as MU’s chancellor, a position he held since 2004. Under his leadership, the university experienced significant increases in overall student enrollment, minority student enrollment, research grants and expenditures, fundraising and hiring of prestigious faculty. Deaton is an advocate of responsible global citizenship, expanded MU international reach and backed the university’s efforts in research, education and policy to help feed the world.

In his retirement, Deaton will head the new Brady and Anne Deaton Institute for University Leadership in International Development, which is housed at MU. The institute focuses on global food security, water safety and environmental sustainability.

“Brady Deaton’s accomplishments as MU’s chancellor are extraordinary,” Newman says. “The way he cares for students is evident and appreciated by the students on our campus. His commitment to education and to making the world a better place should be a model for all of us to follow.”

Alden is in his 16th year as the director of athletics and during that time, MU student-athletes have excelled in the classroom, in the community and in competition. His tenure has seen the most comprehensive run of athletic and academic successes in school history. In addition to the accomplishments in the athletic arenas, MU student-athletes consistently rank high nationally for their academic achievements in term of graduation rates and Academic Progress Rates.

Alden helped guide the University of Missouri in transitioning to the Southeastern Conference, which is widely viewed as the nation’s top athletic conference. MU Athletics has had record fundraising efforts that have led to major expansion and renovations of the MU Sports Park and other athletic facilities, in addition to record memberships in and donations to the Tiger Scholarship Fund.

“Mizzou Athletics has become a national powerhouse under the leadership of Mike Alden, as the sports programs continue to excel,” Newman said. “What is more important is that the ‘student’ part of ‘student-athlete’ has always come first with Mike Alden. Academics have always been a high priority for the athletics department.”

Deaton and Alden were honored at the QEBH Alumni Luncheon.