Looking Back: Grizz statue built in 2006

The cheer team, dance team, OU pep band and the Grizz mascot all gathered around to perform in front of the O’rena in honor of the Grizz statue finally being revealed at Oakland University in 2006. The Grizz statue impacted on the community on campus by becoming a huge athletic symbol.

The original idea for the Grizz statue was lead by a group of OU students who believed the university’s mascot should have a more impactful image. The main vision for this statue was to help boost school spirit, according to Mary Beth Snyder, OU’s vice president of student affairs at the time.

“I’m very excited that the statue is coming to campus,” then-Student Body President Madalyn Miller said. “Students started the push. They wanted the grizzly bear statue on campus, which I think is an excellent display of the fact that students can come together and it can happen.”

Istava’n Ma’te and Lantos Gyorgyi, the parents of former Grizzly swimmer Humor Ma’te, were put in charge of sculpting the statue. They were famous Hungarian sculptors that were well-known for their pieces of art that were displayed in the Vatican. With the estimate cost, the two were willing to donate their time to OU as long as the university supplied the materials and shipping of the statue.

“This special event was forged through hard work and lots of donated labor,” Snyther said then. “Along with students at the time and members of the Student Congress, we were able to raise $35,000.” 

The money raised went toward building the base of the statue and having it shipped.

Shipping the statue from Hungary cost the university around $1,500 and another $2,000 for materials. There was also another $100,000 was spent for the statue’s base, benches and surrounding landscaping done around the statue’s area. 

The idea of the statue came from a smaller version of it in the Student Affairs Office, which served as the basis for Ma’te and Gyorgyi’s life-size Grizz statue. While using bronze material and creating it to be 8 feet tall and weighing over a ton, this addition to campus added a representation of the mascot. 

People on campus, such as then-Interim Athletic Director Greg Kampe, spoke at the revealing about how by adding this statue would urge OU students to show true passion in the university’s athletics.

“The statue definitely evokes school spirit and gets you excited to be a Golden Grizzly,” Michael McGuinness, former student body president said. “It’s very impressive, to say the least.”

Today, the Grizz statue still stands tall outside of the O’rena and students believe that the Grizz statue radiates good luck vibes for students, and rubbing the grizzly’s stomach before a big exam or final will allow them to receive a better grade. This iconic statue adds a lot to campus and gives students a sense of pride.