Saturday crowd welcomes a new big Duck on campus

Welcoming the Big Duck to campus were (from left) Tom Clarey, Molly Clarey, and Alison Brown

The latest Duck to call the UO home stands 8 feet tall and has a literal wingspan that puts Chris Boucher’s to shame. While it’s true it once had feet of clay, the gift from Molly and Tom Clarey was enthusiastically welcomed by a large crowd at its unveiling in front of Matthew Knight Arena on January 23.

The 1,000-pound statue, depicting the University of Oregon’s iconic mascot throwing the “O,” was officially revealed at a special ceremony prior to the men’s basketball game against UCLA. On hand to introduce the statue were the Clareys, sculptor and 2011 UO grad Alison Brown, Athletic Director Rob Mullens and Vice President for University Advancement Mike Andreasen.

Prior to the unveiling, the Oregon Marching Band and Otis Day both performed inside the Cheryl Ramberg and Allyn Ford Alumni Center. Tom Clarey proclaimed the day — Jan. 23, or 1-2-3 — “Duck Day.”

Brown — who just six years ago was a resident advisor in the Living Learning Center, turning her dorm room into a makeshift studio as she juggled sculpting with her studies — is officially licensed by both the UO and Disney.

The statue, titled “Yell ’O,’” was sculpted in clay in Brown’s studio in Troutdale and cast at Firebird Bronze in Boring. Tom Clarey, a 1972 political science alumnus who, with wife Molly, a 1982 grad, has previously made gifts to the UO to support scholarships, UO libraries and athletics, was inspired to commission the piece after purchasing a number of Brown’s sculptures.

“I met Alison a couple of years ago,” Clarey said. “She’s a UO graduate who is so advanced, both in an art and in a business sense. I bought an 18-inch version of the Duck throwing the O and of the push-up Duck. I look at them all the time, and I thought we needed one for the University of Oregon. This mascot is known nationwide. It just represents what the university stands for.”

The statue’s location, between Matthew Knight Arena and the Cheryl Ramberg and Allyn Ford Alumni Center, was selected due to its prominence on campus: The Alumni Center is where future students start campus tours and alumni return for events; Matthew Knight Arena is where graduation ceremonies, sporting events and concerts are held.

“It feels great to see it installed,” Brown said. “I’m really excited for the Clarey family to have such a visible legacy on campus.”

“The single best thing outside of marrying my wife and having two daughters was attending the UO,” said Clarey, who decided to commission the statue for the UO as just one more way to support his alma mater. “So much of what I do revolves around people I met there, and when I think about what they do for young minds to prepare them for the next generation, paying it forward was the least I could do.

“I have a real passion for the mission of the UO. This is just one of my ways of paying it back.”

By Damian Foley, UO Alumni Association