By Phillip Brown and John Bland
Recently, UNC Charlotte dedicated a bronze sculpture depicting Irwin “Ike” Belk, one of Charlotte’s most prominent leaders and a historic figure in the life of the University.
|Irwin "Ike" Belk, Judy Rose and sculptor Jon Hair|
“The sculpture we are dedicating bears the image of a man who is UNC Charlotte’s greatest benefactor of sculpture and statuary and a great supporter of our academic mission. Ike Belk is perhaps the most prolific commissioner of sculpture in the whole country,” said Chancellor Philip L. Dubois.
In addition to endowing a number of academic scholarships and professorships at UNC Charlotte, Belk has provided funds to construct more than two dozen track and field facilities at institutions across the country, and he has beautified many campuses with unique works of art, said Athletics Director Judy Rose.
Currently, the UNC Charlotte campus is home to more than 25 sculptures that Belk commissioned, and there are more to come. Two new larger-than-life sculptures will soon grace the 49ers football stadium complex, one outside of each of the main stadium entrances.
A successful businessman, Belk is a member of the family that established the Belk department store chain. He served in the North Carolina legislature as a member of the House of Representatives and the state Senate. In 1965, as a North Carolina state senator, he introduced the legislation that would make UNC Charlotte the fourth university in the consolidated North Carolina system. He orchestrated a coalition convincing 49 out of 50 Senators to endorse the bill that transformed Charlotte College to The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
During 40 years of steadfast support for UNC Charlotte, Belk has served UNC Charlotte in many capacities, including as a long-time member of the UNC Board of Governors and the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees.
The Belk bust was sculpted by Jon Hair, the artist who also designed and built the striking sculpture “Ascend,” which graces the front plaza of the Student Union. The UNC Charlotte Athletics Foundation commissioned the creation of the Belk bust.
Phillip Brown and John Bland work in the Office of Public Relations.