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Duke Univ. to Take Down Gargoyles

November 7, 2002

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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) _ The gargoyles perched atop the doors to Duke University’s new Gothic dormitory were meant to surprise and honor two wealthy donors.

The university certainly succeeded at surprise: Aubrey and Kathleen McClendon, who gave $5.5 million to build the dorm, were shocked to find their own likenesses staring down from the hall that bears their name _ and demanded they be taken down.

``I think they were just overwhelmed,″ said Peter Vaughn, spokesman for Duke’s development office. ``This was an earnest attempt on the part of Duke to honor them.″

He said the university agreed to remove the small human sculptures at the couple’s request, partly due to the couple’s private nature.

Sculptor Robert Mihaly, who carved the gargoyles, said he wasn’t insulted and considered it a ``flukish″ thing.

The sculptures of Aubrey McClendon, a 1981 graduate and CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corp. in Oklahoma City, and his wife, Kathleen, a 1980 graduate, will remain on McClendon Tower, on Duke’s Gothic-styled West Campus, until new ones are crafted to replace them, university officials said. A plaque will honor the couple instead.

In addition to the $5.5 million gift to Duke’s charitable trust, the McClendons’ have given other gifts to the university, including a $1 million donation to the Duke Basketball Legacy Fund.

The McClendons were traveling Thursday and could not be reached for comment, Chesapeake Energy said. A message left at McClendon’s office was not immediately returned.

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