University News

WIU Mascot Memorial & Alumni Plaza Dedication Set for Homecoming Weekend

September 7, 2021


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MACOMB, IL -- To honor Western Illinois University's beloved mascot, Col. Rock, along with WIU's dedicated alumni and friends, the WIU Mascot Memorial & Alumni Plaza will be dedicated as part of the Western's 2021 Homecoming Celebration. The dedication, which is open to the public, will take place at the plaza, which is directly north of the University Union, beginning at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1.

Beginning in 2017, the Alumni Plaza project, which is composed of nearly 1,000 engraved bricks from over 900 donors from 31 states, revitalized the area just north of the University Union, and generated student, staff, community and alumni support for the initiative. According to Director of the University Union Ashley Katz, the success of the Alumni Plaza would not have been possible without the support of the many donors who graciously purchased bricks for this project. Individuals not able to make it back to campus to see their brick in person can view it virtually with assistance of the "brick locator", courtesy of the WIU Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Geographic Information Sciences. To view the brick locator, visit wiu.edu/student_services/university_union/brickLocator.php

"We are excited to finally be able to dedicate this wonderful project that means so much to so many people. One of the best parts of this project has been seeing the tributes, acknowledgments and memories showcased on the bricks' inscriptions," Katz added. "This is something that will live on for a great many years and it is such an honor to be part of it ."

Directly connected to the Alumni Plaza is the new Mascot Memorial Plaza, of which the centerpiece is an English Bulldog statue that is lit at night, to honor WIU's live mascot, Col. Rock, both past and present. Additional features include a donors plaque, and in the planning, a commemorative plaque that showcases a timeline of the live mascot program and each dog's years of service

In September 1959, the first English Bulldog joined the Western Illinois University family to serve as the University's official mascot. Retired mascot, Col. Rock III (Rocky), passed away Jan. 25, 2021, just shy of his 11th birthday. Rocky joined the WIU family on May 15, 2010 as a 10-week-old puppy and was WIU's first official four-legged mascot since the 1970s. He officially retired in Summer 2019, when the collar was passed to Ray (Col. Rock IV) as WIU's official live mascot. The three-year-old Ray joined the WIU and Roselieb (Joe and Ketra Roselieb serve as the mascot's people) family in June 2018.

"While we unveiled the initial phase of the Mascot Memorial Project during WIU's virtual homecoming celebration last fall, we are so excited to have our alumni and friends back on campus for an in-person Homecoming celebration this fall to pay tribute to our wonderful live mascots," said Joe Roselieb, executive director of auxiliary services and risk management, and director of the live mascot program. "It will be wonderful to gather to honor our Rocky and our other past mascots, as well as our current mascot, Col. Rock IV (Ray)."

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations