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Tri-Delta Sundial



An important sculpture of Miami University tradition is the Tri-Delta Sundial which has been a part of campus since 1962. This bronze sculpture was commissioned by the Delta Delta Delta sorority and gifted to Miami University to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Miami chapter. Located on the Southern Quad of the campus, the Sundial is the centerpiece of a plaza that sits opposite of MacCracken dormitory across the quad. This bronze sculpture is six feet tall, and sits atop a three-foot marble column. This sculpture is considered an armillary because of its spherical construction.

It consists of six rings mounted on a marble pedestal. Along the outside of the equatorial ring are golden figures, marking the houses of the zodiac. On the inside of the equatorial ring are Roman numerals marking the hours. The rings represent the six major circles of the Earth - Meridian, Equator, North Polar or Arctic, South Polar or Antarctic, and Equinoctial Colure - placed in proper relation to each other. The path of the sun is shown by the Elliptic. Signs of the Zodiac are portrayed in high relief on the band of the Equator. The shaft, representing the axis of the Earth, points to the North Star; its shadow on the belt of the Equator indicates the hour. There are cast metal turtles that can be found on the base which symbolize the emblems of eternity. This sculpture is set on true north, which aids in being a precision instrument. It was made for the exact spot on which it stands, and tells the exact solar time on April 16, June 14, September 2 and December 25. As far as the precise dates, there is no significant reason for why they were chosen, besides the exact time being shown on that specific date. 

The Sundial was constructed by an architect and engineer named Clifford M. Proctor. He is from Fairfield County, Connecticut. Kenneth Lynch & Sons was hired as the contractor for the piece and is located out of Wilton, Connecticut. A bronze plaque is placed underneath the sculpture which states that another name for the Sundial is known as “The Miami Alumnus.” There is a myth that most, if not all students of Miami have heard. Similar to the seal, if you rub the turtle’s heads before an exam, you will pass. In the year of 2010, the Sundial was removed for repairs. It was noticed by a graduate that some screws were loose on the base of the sculpture. And then, a current student had been messing around the Sundial, jumped up and grabbed the piece. It then fell to the ground. The graduate reported the incident and the Sundial was taken away for repairs. The total cost of repairs to the Sundial, not including the new base and alterations, was about $28,000. The university initially paid out of pocket for the repairs, but a court case resulted in the student being held financially responsible for the damage he caused. There was a lot of negative reactions to the missing piece, seeing as the incident fell around graduation. This shows us just how important the Sundial is and continues to be to the student body and the university.