KU Union ‘hatches’ six new Jayhawk statues in outdoor plaza

photo by: Mike Yoder

University of Kansas mascot Big Jay inspects a new Jayhawk statue located in the KU campus' Ascher Family Plaza on Thursday, March 7, 2019.

A flock of new Jayhawks “hatched” on the University of Kansas campus on Thursday.

The KU Memorial Union unveiled six new Jayhawk statues — one for each of the six iterations of the iconic mythical bird that represents the university — in the recently constructed Ascher Family Plaza just outside the union building, 1301 Jayhawk Blvd.

The new statues are the final piece to the plaza, which was created after the university received a donation from James Ascher Sr. and his wife, Mary Ellen. The statues were crafted by Kansas City, Kan., sculptor Robin Richerson.

photo by: Mike Yoder

People take photos of the 1923 Jayhawk sculpture, one of six bronze sculptures of the mascot unveiled Thursday, March 7, 2019, at Ascher Plaza just south of the the Kansas Union along Jayhawk Boulevard.

Adam Ziegler, a KU freshman from Lawrence, said he was excited to see the new statues unveiled.

“It’s really cool to see the evolution of them and have them surround (the plaza),” he said.

Prior to the unveiling, David Mucci, union director, said the Aschers are known for helping the university, as they previously helped preserve the Jayhawk Collection, an exhibit in the union that contains thousands of unique pieces of Jayhawk memorabilia.

“We thank James Ascher Sr. and his family for once again coming to the rescue of Jayhawks,” Mucci said.

Ascher said he hopes the plaza will become a location for students and faculty to enjoy.

“We built this really for the students,” he said. “This is a place to be enjoyed and keep it happy.”

photo by: Mike Yoder

University of Kansas alumni James Ascher takes a quick peek at one of six Jayhawk sculptures unveiled Thursday, March 7, 2019, at Ascher Plaza just south of the Kansas Union along Jayhawk Boulevard. Ascher donated $200,000 to the the project which depicts in bronze the six evolutions of design for the Jayhawk mascot.

The university previously teased the unveiling of the statues by placing crimson and blue eggs where the statues would eventually be placed along the plaza’s walls. Many joked that the Jayhawks “hatched” when they were unveiled.

Ascher specifically thanked Mucci for his work on the project, which he said took years, with that joke in mind.

“You have mothered these eggs since conception all the way to hatching,” Ascher told Mucci during a brief speech before the unveiling. “I want the folks to know how responsible you are … This is the man that gets all the credit.”

Students who attended the unveiling said they were impressed with the new Jayhawks.

“The brass colors are really nice and catch the light to grab your attention,” said Katie Olson, a freshman from Kansas City, Mo. “It’s easy to spot out and doesn’t get lost in the architecture.”

photo by: Mike Yoder

A 1923 Jayhawk sculpture is pictured along with other new bronze sculptures depicting the evolution of the mascot’s design, Thursday, March 7, 2019, at Ascher Plaza just south of the the Kansas Union along Jayhawk Boulevard.

Ethan Jacobs, a freshman from Shawnee, agreed.

“I really enjoy how they have all the generations of Jayhawks,” he said, noting the statues can frame a good view of campus that is visible to the left of the union entrance. “It’s a nice little spot for it.”

Dolci Towle, a sophomore from Topeka, said she’s much more likely to use the plaza than the previous iteration of the location, which include seating but was mostly used as a sidewalk.

“Once it gets warmer, it’ll definitely be a spot where people will be,” she said.

Contact Dylan Lysen

Have a story idea, news or information to share? Contact University of Kansas, higher education, state government reporter Dylan Lysen:


Welcome to the new LJWorld.com. Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.