Herky the Hawk celebrates his 70th birthday

UI mascot Herky the Hawk is celebrating his 70th birthday since he was originally penned by University of Iowa professor Dick Spencer in 1948.


David Harmantas

Herky the Hawk celebrates with the Iowa cheerleaders during a game against Northern Iowa at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Panthers 38–14.

Josie Fischels, News Reporter

The third floor of the University of Iowa Main Library was filled with black and gold balloons on Sept. 14 thanks to an exhibit set up by the UI Libraries Special Collections and University Archives to celebrate Herky the Hawk’s 70th birthday.

The Hatching Herky exhibit, curated over the summer by recent UI graduate Chloe Waryan, was made possible by a collaboration between the UI Libraries and the Athletics Department, along with the donations of original sketches of Herky by Jane Roth and Merrill James Hutchinson, Jr.

Roth and her mother have donated a total of 48 original drawings of the mascot to the University Archives over the years. Roth’s father, Frank Havlicek, worked with Herky’s creator, Dick Spencer, when the idea for the mascot was first imagined in 1948.

“Those original drawings were given by Dick to my father, and I didn’t want them to sit in a box,” Roth said. “I wanted them to be preserved and shared through the university, and that’s why I donated them to Special Collections.”

Hutchinson was called on to reimagine Herky when he was a senior at UI in 1973. In the April 17, 1973, issue of The Daily Iowan, he said he had redrawn Herky to be more “strong, aggressive, and determined.” Hutchinson donated his artwork to the University Archives in 2016, where it was also arranged for display for Herky’s 70th birthday celebration.

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“Today, we are so grateful that those sketches reside here in the University Archives,” UI Librarian John Culshaw said.

Exhibit curator Waryan worked closely with University Archivist David McCartney over the summer to organize the event, searching through the archives for documents, early sketches, and other artwork concerning Herky.

“I was so excited to spend the summer going through all the boxes, going on my own little treasure hunt,” Waryan said.

UI Libraries was extremely proud to celebrate a piece of the university’s history with members of the UI and Iowa City community. Culshaw said that although he has only been working at UI for five years, he came to understand the deep love that people have for the university and Herky very quickly after he arrived.

The Hatching Herky exhibit will be open to the public through Oct. 19 at the UI Main Library.

“It’s very special to be part of the history of Herky, especially because Herky transcends the university and interfaces across the university in so many ways,” Roth said.