Seniors hoping to get one last bit of good luck by rubbing the Delta Zeta turtles prior to graduation will probably not be able to do so.
Repairs on the Tri Delta Sundial and the Delta Zeta turtles will almost certainly not be completed by commencement, according to Cody Powell, senior director of utilities and building maintenance. The cost of repairs to the sundial may reach $28,000, according to Powell.
The brass and bronze monument was initially damaged May 6, 2010, when Miami University junior Bradley Hoffman climbed inside of it, causing the sundial to topple, according to the Miami University Police Department.
After the incident, the sundial was kept in storage for several months while Miami University figured out what to do with it.
According to Powell, the delay was caused by uncertainty over the outcome of the court case and difficulty in choosing whether to attempt to repair or completely replace the Sundial.
“We spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out what to do with it,” Powell said. “We talked to several different artists and the company that manufactured it originally, deciding whether to remanufacture the whole thing or fix it. That took more time than what it probably should’ve.”
Ultimately, Miami chose to repair rather than replace the sundial. It was not until February that the sundial was moved to local artist John Cline’s shop for repairs.
Cline said the damage to the sundial was so extensive it had to be completely dismantled and each major component reshaped.
“None of the rings are designed to take an impact like what it sustained. Almost every major component was damaged,” Cline said. “Although something is made of metal, it is very fragile if it sustains a fall. It’s not designed to be bounced across the pavement like a beach ball.”
Reshaping the metal has required the use of multiple sub-contractors with specialized stamping and rolling equipment. The work is moving slowly to avoid further damage, Cline said, because some of the components may be irreplaceable.
Although the company that manufactured the sundial in the 1960s is still in business, Cline said much of the equipment used to manufacture it is no longer there.
“We’re trying to salvage as much as we can, because if something is completely scrapped, you might not be able to find a replacement for it,” Cline said.
When it returns, the sundial will no longer be perfectly spherical, according to Cline. “We’re going our best to bring it as close to round and concentric as possible,” Cline said. “I don’t think it will ever be exactly the way it was back when it was installed in the early 1960s.”
The sundial is a major icon of the university and used by many alumni to relate to their time here, Powell said.
“Students and alumni want to have their picture taken with it and we’re doing everything we can because we recognize that it’s an important issue for many,” Powell said. “It’s one of the most photographed areas on campus and there’s a great desire to have it back by alumni weekend.”
Senior Emily Hall said she had hoped to take pictures with the sundial prior to graduating.
“It’s a really important part of the landscape of the university that’s been missing for a long time,” Hall said. “With all the traditions surrounding it, it would’ve been really nice to have it back in time for seniors to say goodbye to their university.”
Many campus tour guides have not been walking by the wooden box standing in place of the sundial, according to junior Leah Bock, a tourguide.
“Some of us do a different route now because there’s no point in going where the sundial is missing,” Bock said. “I just tell (groups) about the Upham Arch and seal and leave out the sundial.”
According to Butler County Area One Court records, Hoffman was found guilty of criminal damaging. Hoffman was ordered to pay restitution to Miami, fined $750 and given a suspended sentence of 90 days in jail, according to records. His case was scheduled for review yesterday, but the review was postponed because the precise amount of restitution will not be known until repairs are completed.