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Alma Mater undergoing facelift

URBANA -- The UI's Alma Mater is undergoing the first steps of restoration.
URBANA -- The UI's Alma Mater is undergoing the first steps of restoration. She's no longer at her usual spot on campus. Students, staff and alums were on hand to send her off. WCIA-3's Jessica Shaw finds out what's involved in moving the icon.

Crews found something unexpected to start; a jar with a letter and photos inside. University officials say they're working on restoring the statue, but its removal has left a big hole on campus.

"Gosh, it's so bittersweet."

"It's been nerve-wracking."

You'd expect no less when it comes to the UI's Alma Mater.

"It's going to be very strange to see an empty space there."

She's being packed up for some much-needed R-and-R.

"You just gotta take your time. Make sure you got the right straps, right equipment."

Crews spent the morning lifting, strapping, padding and shrink-wrapping. The Alma Mater is heading to Forest Park. There, she's getting a complete makeover; one she's been needing.

"The bolts, they're like this. These are literally bolts from the top of the structure. It's still very stable now, but it we waited, someone could've climbed up there, pulled up a head or arm and actually broken the statue."

She'll be missed. The Alma Mater had a way of bringing people together.

"My proudest memory is standing in front of her at graduation."

And, bringing people back.

"It was Bill's idea. We read about it in the paper and he said we should go and I said, 'yes, we should.''

There's no question campus will seem a little emptier this fall.

"It's just a very welcoming sense on campus."

"It's sad to see her go, but we know she'll be back and in better shape."

A ride normally lasting 2-hours will take 3-4 because of the precious cargo. It will be a lot of work to restore her, but she should be back by graduation.
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