WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Students, alumni, faculty and friends of Purdue University gathered Sunday for a special unveiling of the new John Purdue statue. The secret student organization Order of the Iron Key class of 2012 wanted to put a face to the name of the University's founder.
"We wanted to connect the students and visitors to campus with John Purdue," 2012 Iron Key class president Mike James said. "We realize that most people couldn't put a face to the name, obviously they could understand the namesake of the University, however we wanted to connect students with John Purdue himself."
Every year the Iron Key class, made up of 12 seniors, plans a project for the University. The students' identities are kept secret until graduation so behind closed doors they secretly planned John Purdue's statue.
"Since then we had worked to propose it to the University, work to select our artists, and now we're dedicating it today so just over a year and a half," James said.
"It's just an incredible statue and it's been tough, but I'm extremely pleased," fifth year senior Stewart Shippee said.
Shippee has been on campus bringing the statue to life since many of his 2012 Iron Key classmates graduated last May. All returned for the dedication including some relatives of John Purdue. Shippee said the statue of John Purdue with just a book and cane is a perfect way to honor the university's founder.
"I think it's important that we realize our roots of what we are here as a university and that we came from humble beginnings. A lot of people remark about Purdue that it is a humble school," Shippee said.
The bronze statue is in Memorial Mall in front of University Hall, which is the only remaining building from when John Purdue last walked through campus.
A shooting on Lafayette's south side is under investigation.
It's been nearly a month since a tornado damaged Southwestern Middle School and Mintonye Elementary School, giving faculty the task of helping students transition to their new surroundings.
Donations are being accepted to help around 300 seniors receive a holiday gift.