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Thursday, October 06, 2022

At the University of Florida, we have one statue of a UF president, Albert Murphree, who was our second president. We have three statues of Heisman Trophy winners: Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow. And we have many, many statues of alligators.

How many? I’d like to ask for your help in finding out — but first I have news about a new one. 

In my inaugural year serving as president, my impression was that despite the abundance of gator statues everywhere on campus, even more were appearing without planning or purpose. Thus, I issued a moratorium on any new alligator statues.   

Next month, in the spirit of the holidays, I will violate my own moratorium — temporarily. 

A UF College of the Arts alum, artist and blacksmith Leslie Tharp has been commissioned to create an elegant and whimsical gator sculpture illuminated with lights. 

On Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 5 p.m., just outside University Auditorium, we will celebrate the end of the semester with “The Lighting of the Gator.”  We will serve cookies and hot chocolate, and members of the University Chamber Singers will perform songs reflecting the sounds of the season. Everyone in the campus community is invited to join in the celebration.   

Our intention with this new gator statue is to bring light to the dark of winter, and cheer to a time of stress as classes, exams, projects and papers are finished and grades assigned.  After students leave campus for winter break, the holiday gator will be removed and put in storage until it is returned to light up the winter night again next December.  

In the spirit of memorializing all the gator statues already on campus, I am offering a prize to the first currently-enrolled student documenting the most statues. 

The winner will get an invitation to attend a UF football game with a guest in the president’s suite — or a UF basketball game with a guest in the president’s court-side seats.

Here are the rules:

  • To enter, email a total count of alligator statues and photo of each statue to president@ufl.edu no later than 11:59 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 18.  
  • Only full-sized, full-body alligator statues qualify, including both lifelike gators and Albert and Alberta (no Gator head plaques, for example).
  • Indicate in the email the location of each statue. 
  • All the statues must be on UF property in Alachua County, including indoor and outdoor spaces.
  • Each statue must have been in its current location since at least the start of the semester.

I look forward to joining the university community in celebrating the temporary addition of one more statue, our very first lighted Gator, on Dec. 3. I wish everyone success and joy as we finish the race of the Fall semester.

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Kent Fuchs is the president of UF. His column appears monthly.

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