Doc Farber statue ready for new location

William O. Doc Farber greets Crazy Horse Memorial President and Chief Executive Officer Ruth Ziolkowski in this Plain Talk file photo taken by Aaron Packard during an event on the USD campus in April 2005. Sitting to the esteemed professors left is Dick Brown, one of the Farber Boys.

The statue of William O. Doc Farber has been nestled in between Slagle Hall and Old Main on the University of South Dakotas campus for the last eight years.

But after an unfortunate construction accident, the statue will stand in front of Dakota Hall, a building he roamed for decades.

It makes more sense, assuming that the political science department always stays there, said Dr. William Richardson, USDs chair of the Department of Political Science. Its a natural home, just like putting it by Old Main because of his connection there. The university has gone through some changes, and it didnt fit at its old place as far as the planning process.

Farber, a professor emeritus of political science at USD, died in 2007 at age 96. Farber was considered a mentor to many USD students, including alum Tom Brokaw, who did a special segment on the professor for NBCs The Today Show a few months ago.

Farber began his career as an educator, advocate and life-long mentor of students at The University of South Dakota in 1935. He accepted a chairmanship at North Dakota State University in 1937, but returned to USD the next year where he served as chair of the Department of Government (now the Department of Political Science) for 38 years.

USD officially had plans in place to transfer the statue from Old Main to Dakota Hall, but those plans were expedited when Doc was involved in an accident with the construction crews working on Slagle Hall.

It was knocked over by one of the contractors with one of their machines and significantly damaged, Richardson said. It was carted off for safe keeping and repairs.

Because the statue was knocked over, it was decided to get it ready for its move to Dakota Hall.

With all the changes that are happening now, it was a good opportunity to make it happen, said USDs Director of Planning and Construction. We have the construction crews on campus right now who got the spot ready.

The location where the statue will be placed has been prepared, and the sculpture will sit on top of a one-foot concrete stand.

But before the statue could be placed on his new home, it needed a makeover after its brush with the construction crews. The university shipped the statue to Lee Leuning, the person who originally sculpted it.

Richardson said it took three days to repair the statue to its original beauty.

There were dents and its warped at the base from being knocked off, which couldnt be repaired, he said. He had to put new bronze in places, and the statue looks great. He did a very nice job. I dont think anyone will notice.

In 1997, members of the USD community and the South Dakota Board of Regents established the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership. The centers program focuses on leadership skills to help individuals and communities identify, address and resolve challenges.

In 2002, Gov. Bill Janklow, one of Farbers former students, dedicated a life-sized bronze statue in front of USDs historic Old Main in recognition of his lifelong leadership and accomplishments.

U.S. Sen. Larry Pressler, a former student and one of six Rhodes Scholars who studied under Farber, provided key support to the Farber Intern and Travel Fund activities in Washington, DC.

The lecture hall inside a renovated Old Main was also dedicated as Farber Hall, where students and the general public frequently attend informative speeches and engaging discussions with some of the worlds most influential public figures.

Wagner said with the repairs to the statue and the concrete base, the project cost around $5,000. With three different construction crews on campus, Wagner doesnt know which one caused the damage to Farber, so the university is covering the repair costs.

The next step will be getting Doc up on his new base.

If the weather cooperates, the intention is for it to go up before the end of the year, Wagner said. We didnt want it to interrupt students from getting to class, so we are hoping either later this week or sometime next week.

Docs new location will not only have a concrete base, but once the weather gets warmer, the statue will also be surrounded by a more inviting atmosphere.

In the spring, they will complete the landscaping, Richardson said. The intent is to have it surrounded by cobblestones, benches and some lighting.

The statue has been popular ever since it was placed on USDs campus back in 2002, and students and alums have decorated Doc on a regular basis. For Dakota Days, Doc can be seen decorated in red, and during the winter season, he can occasionally be seen with mittens or a jacket.

The alums are extremely fond of the traditions that are developing with the statue, Richardson said. Doc himself loved the activities. It showed affection for it and he was very, very proud of it.

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