Blue Jay Way
Birdhouse represents longstanding relationship between two venerable institutions
by MaryAlice Bitts
November 2, 2010
The blue jay hangs outside the cupola following a win by Johns Hopkins.
On Oct. 30 President William G. Durden ’71 dedicated the Dickinson cupola, a new and symbolic campus icon that marks the unique relationship between Dickinson College and the Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law.
As Durden explained, the 22-foot roof ornament long topped a law-school residence hall but was dismantled when the building was demolished last year as part of the school’s extensive renovation project. “When I and other senior administrators saw the cupola sitting forlornly in the midst of the law school renovation construction, we inquired as to its fate,” he told the audience of invited guests. “When learning that there was no intended use for it, my colleagues and I decided that it needed a home.”
Dickinson community members retrieved, refurbished and repurposed the structure. Today, the cupola stands on Dickinson’s Morgan Field, a towering tribute to the longstanding relationship between the two adjoining yet separate institutions and the many Dickinson alumni who have gone on to receive Penn State Dickinson Law School degrees.
Standing at a lectern on Morgan Rocks, the president gestured toward the cupola and acknowledged that jointly, the two institutions have contributed a vast number of practitioners to the Pennsylvania Association Bar, the federal and Commonwealth benches and the state and federal legislatures. The cupola pays homage to this fruitful institutional relationship, he said.
The structure, now commonly referred to as “the birdhouse,” also has been incorporated into a new athletics tradition at Dickinson. When Red Devil teams win in a match against rival Johns Hopkins University, a bluejay inhabits the cupola. When Johns Hopkins wins, the bluejay remains outside.
View the video, The Dickinson Birdhouse: What Is It, Anyway?
Read President Durden’s dedication-ceremony remarks.
Photos from the Ceremony