A vision 10 years in the making came to fruition May 11 with the dedication of Redbird Plaza. This new gathering space on campus is located between Fell and DeGarmo Halls, with its centerpiece being a bronze bust statue of the Redbird head.
Other features of Redbird Plaza include multiple seating areas and references to the University Fight Song. “To this emblem we’ll be true” is displayed prominently in front of the Redbird statue. A plaque near the statue also states, “May this plaza be a space that promotes education and community, while serving as a unifying emblem of pride to which all Redbirds will be true.”
About 10 years ago, a group of students, including members of the Student Government Association, University Program Board, and the Student Athletic Advisory Council, came together to form the Illinois State University Traditions Council. One of the first projects for the group was to work with the student body and campus administrators to create a space for the Redbird on the Quad for all members of the Illinois State community to enjoy. At that time, the students coined the phrase “Meet Me at the Bird” to name the initiative, as well as add a new term to the Illinois State vernacular.
While funds were not available when the Traditions Council first suggested the idea, over time resources and a new space become available. Facilities had space after the demolition of Rambo House, which paired with the Division of Student Affairs receiving financial support from the Student Government Association as well as a generous donation from the Judith “Jude” Boyer estate. Redbird Plaza became a reality as the result of this partnership.
Members of Boyer’s family attended the dedication. Her friend and colleague Michael Schermer spoke of her service and commitment to students at Illinois State: “Everything she did was based on making ISU better. She inspired us to make this a better and special place for all of us.”
President Larry Dietz also spoke of Boyer’s legacy and his hopes for Redbird Plaza: “There will be times in the future when having a space like Redbird Plaza will be important, allowing us to gather for celebrations or major events. Yet I am drawn to the idea of the seemingly small moments, when members of our community feel supported and appreciated, and discover a sense of belonging. We hope this dedication is just the beginning, a place where new students gather to learn the fight song, where graduating Redbirds come together one more time before they spread their wings, and where alumni come home to “Meet at the Bird” with friends and classmates. This is definitely the beginning of new traditions.”
The highlight of the dedication was the official unveiling of the Redbird statue, which ended with the singing of the fight song. Dietz also acknowledged all graduating students at the event, congratulating them for their accomplishments and hard work while at Illinois State. Each graduate in attendance received a commemorative bronze Reggie pin, and were encouraged to stay after the dedication to have their picture taken with the statue.
Vice President for Student Affairs Levester Johnson closed the dedication ceremony in perfect summation of what Redbird Plaza means for the Illinois State community. He described the new space as “a place where memories are made, friendships strengthened, and traditions built. Today is a special day for all Redbirds.”
The Division of Student Affairs encourages all alumni to make plans now to visit campus and see Redbird Plaza. We hope you will accept the invitation to “Meet at the Bird.”