AMHERST, Mass. - The Class of 1950 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will dedicate its gift to the University, a bronze statue of a Minuteman on Sat., Oct. 12, at 10:45 a.m., as part of Homecoming Weekend activities. The statue, sculpted by John F. Townsend, a retired UMass art professor, will be located on a small hill between the Old Chapel and the Campus Pond. The public is welcome.
At the dedication ceremony, Chancellor John V. Lombardi and Ed Struzziero, a member of the Class of 1950 Gift Committee, will give brief remarks. There will be an honor guard from the Minuteman Battalion of the UMass ROTC, and music from the Minuteman Marching Band. The statue will be unveiled by Lombardi, Townsend, and members of the Class of 1950.
Donald R. Progulske, a retired professor of natural resources conservation and member of the Class of 1950 Gift Committee, says class members were canvassed at their 45th reunion in 1995 and decided on the Minuteman statue. "Our class was the veterans class," Progulske says. "There were about 1,100 men and women in the class, and at least 900 of them were veterans. We chose the Minuteman because it is a patriotic symbol." The Minutemen were citizen soldiers at the time of the American Revolution who pledged to be ready to fight at a minute’s notice.
The Minuteman statue is 114 ½ inches tall and was cast by Paul King Foundry, in Johnston, R.I. It will sit on a 45-inch base of gray Barre granite. The statue and base are positioned atop a concrete pad that is six feet deep and 90 inches by 84 inches. The pad was designed by Jason Venditti, Class of 1996, and an engineer in the University’s physical plant department.
Susan G. Mattei, assistant vice chancellor for alumni relations and executive director of the Alumni Association, says, "Through the years, many reunion class gift projects such as this one have been a labor of love. Memorial Hall, home of the Alumni Relations Office and one of the oldest and prettiest buildings on campus, was built in 1921 entirely with alumni donations. Another example is the Class of 1968 park bench right outside my office in Memorial Hall. The bench is dedicated to alumni lost in the Vietnam War. Last spring at Reunion Weekend, members from a class from the 1940s made a weeding and pruning visit to the garden they funded as a class gift."
The new statue cost approximately $100,000, raised in gifts ranging from $25 up to $1,000. Class member Eugene Isenberg and his wife Ronnie also donated $15,000 toward the project. Isenberg has been a frequent donor to the University and in 1997 gave a $6 million gift to UMass.