Gannon University and its intercollegiate athletic teams will usher in a new tradition with the addition of a Golden Knight statue at Gannon University Field.

The Golden Knight statue will be six and a half feet tall, weigh more than 1,500 pounds and include a sword and a shield emblazoned with “GU.” It will reside inside the front gate of Gannon University Field, located at the corner of West Fifth and Sassafras streets. The field is home to Gannon’s football,women’s lacrossebaseballsoftball and men’s and women’s soccer teams.

The majestic, bronze statue officially will be dedicated during Gannon University’s 2013 Alumni Homecoming Reunion Weekend. A life-size photograph of a clay maquette (miniature model) of the statue will be on display at Gannon University Field during this year’s Homecoming, to be held Oct. 19-21.

The statue is made possible by a gift from Irwin Belk of Charlotte, N.C. Belk’s gift is covering the cost of the sculpture, and Gannon is responsible for providing the statue pedestal and the statue’s installation.

Gannon’s Class of 2013, through the University’s Senior Class Gift Campaign, is helping to fund the project.

Jon Hair, a renowned sculptor in Cornelius, N.C., has been commissioned to design and create the statue.

More about the Gannon Golden Knight and its symbolism

The Golden Knight is the designated and official mascot of Gannon University and its intercollegiate athletic teams. It was so chosen because of its inherent, symbolic qualities: a warrior in service, recognized for his honor, bravery, chivalry, nobility, loyalty and generosity. In the Arthurian legends, the Knight often is the hero, sent on a quest that will test his abilities.

More about Irwin Belk

Belk, now retired, formerly led the Belk Stores, the largest privately owned department store company in America. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1946.

In addition to his success with the Belk Stores, he served eight years in the North Carolina House of Representatives and Senate and introduced the resolution that created the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Belk also is a member of the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees and Board of Visitors and for more than 30 years served on the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors.

A generous philanthropist, champion of higher education and patron of the arts, Belk has commissioned numerous sculptures and has made gifts in support of academic and athletic facilities to colleges and universities in North Carolina and Virginia.

A record-breaking collegiate track athlete himself, Belk is a firm believer in the development of mind and body. He has served on the U.S. Olympic Committee and has been honored for his life-long contributions to the Olympic movement.

More about Jon Hair

Hair is a recognized leader in American sculpture, having completed more than 30 major public art commissions since 1999. He has built a reputation as one of the most successful, decorated and accomplished art directors and designers in the country.

His corporate clients have included IBM, General Electric, Siemens and Husqvarna. In addition, Hair has created statues for many colleges and universities, to include Purdue University, Wake Forest University, University of Cincinnati, Christopher Newport University, the Air Force Academy and Bowling Green State University, among others.

In 2003, Hair was named official sculptor of the U.S. Olympic Team and the U.S. Olympic Committee, making him the only artist in the United States to be so honored. He created a 35-foot sculpture titled “Olympic Strength” that serves as an iconic representation of the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. It is the largest, most photographed bronze monument in Colorado.

His previous sculptures include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Leonardo da Vinci, Sacajawea, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, Ted Turner and Neil Armstrong.

This article was originally published on Oct. 14, 2012 on