New Jersey's second-largest public university is spending $210,000 for a 17-foot tall bronze statue depicting the school's red-tailed hawk mascot, and some students aren't feeling the school spirit.
Montclair State University spokeswoman Suzanne Bronski told The Record newspaper about half the cost will be paid by mandatory student fees from the Student Government Association and the rest from university funds. But students, who pay $11,000 per year in tuition and fees, say the big purchase was bird-brained.
“You know what could really help school spirit?" student Jo Landau told The Record. "If tuition weren’t so high, if there were parking spots for everyone, if everyone actually knew who their academic adviser was, and if the administration actually listened to students like they say they will.”
“You know what could really help school spirit? If tuition weren’t so high, if there were parking spots for everyone, if everyone actually knew who their academic adviser was, and if the administration actually listened to students like they say they will.”
- Montclair State student Jo Landau
Bronski said about $4,000 in private donations have been raised, and predicted the statue will help generate enthusiasm for the school's Division III athletic program and reinforce a sense of community. Brian Hanlon of Hanlon Sculpture Studio, the maker of the statue, echoed Bronski's sentiment, telling FoxNews.com, "Art elevates everything in life and that should always be supported."
"Fine art has been an integral part of our spiritual, physical and mental landscape for centuries," Hanlon said. "This could only elevate a student's outlook on the world because this image is so majestic and powerful as well as regal. You go from home to living on a campus and you see something like this and makes you feel a part of the university."
Hanlon also created a 900-pound, life-size bronze statue of Shaquille O'Neal at Louisiana State University and the Miss America statue in Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Hanlon's studio, based in Toms River, N.J., has made other impressive mascot sculptures, like the Seton Hall Pirate and Florida International University's Golden Panther.
Trustees at the university approved spending up to $225,000 for the statue, which will be installed in the plaza in front of the school's athletic center, school officials told the newspaper.
The hawk statue, which is now in a clay model form, takes eight months to complete, Hanlon told FoxNews.com. The massive bronze bird is expected to be erected in later summer.
Montclair, which has 20,000 students, is the second-largest of the state's public universities. Costs and enrollment have increased steadily over the last ten years at public colleges and universities across the state, according to The Record.
The newspaper reports that tuition and fees average 40 percent higher than the national norm, as the schools sign off on costly capital projects.
Other high-profile purchases include a $102 million football stadium expansion at Rutgers University, the state's largest public university, and a $219,000 conference table made in China for Kean University's new conference center.
"Whether or not this is legal, it's certainly not ethical and it's a waste of taxpayer money," Democrat Assemblyman Joseph Cryan said in a statement last month. "The time to reform higher education in New Jersey is long past."
Kean University said in a December email to Fox News that costs for the conference center will be not be absorbed by students.
FoxNews.com's Cristina Corbin, Edmund DeMarche and The Associated Press contributed to this report.