Designed and created by award-winning artist David Anderson, “Lofty Return” was dedicated to The University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach on October 24, 2013, in conjunction with the institution’s annual Homecoming festivities.
This impressive sculpture, and a second version located on the University’s Hattiesburg Campus, was commissioned by alumnus Chuck Scianna and donated to recognize the institution’s sixth President, Dr. Aubrey K. Lucas, for his efforts in making Gulf Park what it is today. The statue on the Hattiesburg Campus is placed in honor of Dr. Martha Dunagin Saunders in appreciation for her contributions as the ninth President of the University.
“Lofty Return” stands as a reminder to University of Southern Mississippi students, employees, alumni and friends that the institution has been an incubator, preparing students to leave the nest and become successful, productive citizens. Above all, “Lofty Return” symbolizes an invitation to all alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of the University to return to their nest.
“Chuck often references Ross Perot who says that turkeys flock, but eagles soar,” University President Rodney Bennett said. “It will be apparent to all who see this statue that this University welcomes its alumni and friends home, and intends to soar to new heights with their help.”
The Gulf Park sculpture is 11-feet wide by 14-feet high by 5-feet deep. Anderson, an internationally recognized artist/sculptor based in Idaho, spent more than a year meticulously designing the piece.
“The Gulf Park Campus has a new and exceptional icon representing Southern Miss,” said Dr. Frances Lucas, Southern Miss Gulf Coast vice president and campus executive officer at the time of its dedication. “This golden eagle will serve as the centerpiece of Mississippi’s only beachfront campus. We are proud to have both a sculpture in Hattiesburg and on the Gulf Park campus tying us together as one university.”