Namesake may be honored in bronze

Plans are in the works for a statue of Jacques Marquette, the 17th century Jesuit explorer the university is named after, to be placed on campus.

Currently, his image is on the university seal and in a few locations on campus — a statue in O'Hara Hall and a couple of paintings that are not currently on display at the Haggerty Museum of Art.

Besides the seal, there are very few depictions of Jacques Marquette in visible places on campus, but this will soon change. According to Janet Gottfreid, the chief protocol officer in the Office of Public Affairs, an anonymous trustee of the university has offered to donate a bronze statue of Marquette which will be placed just east of the St. Joan of Arc and south of the Raynor Library.

"We're anxious to get it up and going," said Toby Peters, associate senior vice president.

He said a committee was reviewing two different maquettes, or miniature sample sculptures, and hoped to choose within the next two weeks which statue the committee preferred.

James Kieselburg, the registrar of the Haggerty Museum of Art, said that both Marquettes were available for viewing at the museum. One was created by Omri Amrany, an artist best known for created a sculpture of basketball player Michael Jordan which was placed outside Chicago's United Center, and the other was created by Ronald Knepper, a New York-based artist.

Gottfreid said that choosing which statue to commission would be the next step in a process which has lasted over two years, from the idea to have a statue of Jacques Marquette to the lengthy process of deciding which representation of Marquette was best. She said that she expected the statue to be on campus and dedicated by the 2005-'06 school year.

"We would dedicate (the statue) while school is in session," Gottfreid said.

Although this university is named for Marquette, no plans had come until recently to build an easily viewable statue to him. Currently, there is a statue of Marquette . According to both Peters and Gottfreid, the lack of a statue wasn't intentional.

"We have so many things to be done and so much in priority that (a statue to Marquette) wasn't at the top of the list," Gottfreid said.

Peters focused on the fact that Marquette had lived several hundred years ago.

"There's not a lot of documentation on Father Marquette in terms of what he looked like," Peters said.

Marquette was a Jesuit missionary who, with the Rev. Louis Joliet, explored many Midwest rivers and lakes, including Lake Michigan, the Fox River and the Mississippi River, with the intention of converting the Native Americans in the areas. He is also said to have passed through Milwaukee during his expeditions. He died just before his 40th birthday.

According to the Rev. Paul Prucha, professor emeritus in the department of history and a member of the Jesuit Community, Marquette was named for Jacques Marquette because "he did great work in God's service." Also, Prucha said, Marquette was known for discovery, and that was a value important to the university.

According to Peters, more statues are being commissioned to be placed on Marquette's grounds. For example, a statue of Mother Teresa is scheduled to be placed by the entrance to the Student Health Services clinic by this summer.

A bronze statue of Jacques Marquette is already available downtown in Marquette Park, according to Kieselburg.