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Sept. 26, 2003

Purdue dedicates sculpture in honor of President Emeritus Beering

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A sculpture created in tribute to Purdue President Emeritus Steven C. Beering will be dedicated today (Friday, 9/26) during the university's President's Council Annual Weekend.

Sculpture dedicated
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The dedication of the nine-foot sculpture will take place at 4:30 p.m. on the east side of the Steven C. Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education. Beering, Purdue President Martin C. Jischke, and internationally known Spanish artist Faustino Aizkorbe (pronounced eye-SKOR-bay), who created and donated the sculpture, will be in attendance.

Jischke said Aizkorbe's second sculpture reflects the university community's admiration for President Beering and his many accomplishments.

"From the beautification of campus to the internationalization of Purdue, President Beering has left an enduring legacy," Jischke said. "This artistic interpretation is a fine tribute to the spirit of Dr. Beering's efforts that touched so many, for now and for the future."

The sculpture features four iron railroad tracks, which are suspended from a tripod with a bronze torso at the top. A Maltese cross, cut out of the torso, lies beneath the rails on the ground.

The railroad tracks reflect the Purdue Boilermakers' ties to and support of transportation, advanced communication and spirit of progress. The torso represents Beering and his role in transferring this spirit to the students of Purdue. The cross on the torso symbolizes that the president emeritus was at the heart of this effort, working with self-sacrifice and patience. The cut-out section of cross sits at the base of the railroad tracks to symbolize the foundation and authority provided to Beering by the university.

"In this manner, we have Mr. Beering and Purdue united by communication and the strength that each contributes, which, in turn, propels both to move forward," Aizkorbe said.

Aizkorbe also fashioned the 40-foot bronze sculpture "Transformation," which is located in the heart of the Agricultural Mall at the intersection of Marsteller and Wood streets. "Transformation," Aizkorbe's first commissioned work in the United States, was a gift to the university from the Class of 1952.

Aizkorbe, whose work is displayed in Europe, China and Japan, as well as the United States, is well known for his large-scale abstract sculptures made from marble, steel, bronze, stone and wood. His polished surfaces, curved lines and circles combine to create self-standing forms, resembling and suggesting a connection to the pieces of a machine. Born in 1948 in Navarra, Spain, Aizkorbe lives and works in Pamplona, Spain.

Beering was named Purdue's ninth president in 1983 after serving as dean of the Indiana University School of Medicine and director of the IU Medical Center. He retired in 2000 and continues to serve as chairman of the Purdue Research Foundation.

A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, he subsequently graduated from the Pitt School of Medicine and spent more than 12 years in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps. During his military career, he served as an adviser to the U.S. surgeon general in internal medicine and was a medical consultant on the U.S. space program's early attempts to put humans in orbit.

Beering's administration at Purdue emphasized undergraduate teaching and faculty recognition through the creation and funding of special professorships. Under his tenure, the number of distinguished and named professorships grew from 21 in 1983 to more than 60.

Beering also led major building and beautification efforts on the university's campuses. Among the construction projects completed under his administration in West Lafayette include the Steven C. Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education; a $32 million power plant expansion; Hillenbrand Hall, a student residence; and major additions to the engineering, veterinary medicine and athletic complexes. A new food science and biotechnology complex and a golf course renovation also were completed during his tenure. In addition, Beering was instrumental in transforming the campus landscape and skyline with the bell tower and creation of several outdoor malls.

During his administration, annual support for sponsored research grew to more than $130 million. In 1989, Beering launched the Vision 21 campaign, a five-year, private fund-raising effort that raised more than $330 million, surpassing its goal by more than $80 million.

Beering has held senior positions with numerous national and state committees, boards of directors and educational policy-making groups. He is a past president of the Association of American Universities and was co-chairman of the NCAA Presidents' Commission Subcommittee on Gender Equity. He continues to serve as a member of the National Academy of Science/Institute of Medicine and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the Royal Society of Medicine.

Writer: Marydell Forbes (765) 496-7704,

Sources: Steven C. Beering, (765) 496-7555,

Martin C. Jischke, (765) 494-9708

John Collier, senior landscape architect, (765) 494-6882,

Related Web site:

Aizkorbe's vita

Purdue President Martin C. Jischke, from left, Purdue President Emeritus Steven C. Beering and Spanish artist Faustino Aizkorbe admire the nine-foot sculpture Aizkorbe created and donated in honor of Beering. The sculpture, fashioned from iron and bronze, was dedicated to Beering at a ceremony today (Friday, 9/26.) It is located on the east side of Steven C. Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education. (News Service photo/David Umberger.)