Athena as Alma Mater
N 40° 48.468 W 073° 57.729
The sculpture of Athena as Alma Mater is located on the steps of the Low Memorial Library on the campus of Columbia University at 116th Street and Broadway in Manhattan.
In ancient Greek mythology the goddess Athena was associated with many noble characteristics including: wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, mathematics, strength, war strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill.
A bronze sculpture of the goddess Athena, under the name Alma Mater, was created by Daniel Chester French. A 8.6' by 5.9' by 6.2' the figure of the goddess of Greek mythology wearing an academic gown and a crown of laurels is seated on a throne. The throne rests on an upper marble and lower granite base. The arms of the throne end in a pair of lamps, representing wisdom and learning. She holds a book on her lap representing knowledge. In her right hand she holds a scepter composed of four sprays of wheat topped by a the crown of King's College. Columbia was founded by royal charter as King's College in 1754.
The sculpture was donated in the memory of Robert Goelet, class of 1860. It was created in 1903 and installed in its present location in 1904. Since then this sculpture, in the center of the campus, as become the universally recognized symbol of Columbia University.
The front of the granite base is inscribed in raised copper letters: ALMA MATER
The back of the sculpture shows the seal of Columbia University with the image of Athena surrounded by children and the Latin motto of Columbia University: IN LUMINE TUO VIDEBIMUS LUMEN (In Thy light shall we see light)
The back of the marble base is inscribed: IN MEMORY OF ROBERT GOELET CLASS OF 1860.