True Grit

True Grit statue with diploma
True Grit statue with diploma, December 1987. University Photographs, UARC 2013-013-04-0141. View larger

In 1986, UMBC commissioned alumna Paulette Raye ‘87, philosophy, to create a bronze-cast model of the Retriever for the school’s 20th anniversary. Raye worked in a studio at Towson University, using a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Nitty Gritty as her model. The 500-pound, life-size statue was unveiled on December 7, 1987, outside of the Field House, now the plaza between the Administration Building and the Retriever Activities Center.

Sculptor Paulette Raye, '87, with the True Grit statue
Sculptor Paulette Raye, '87, with the True Grit statue, December 1987. University Photographs, UARC 2013-013-04-0150. View larger

Ray sculpted a wax casting of her Retriever model Nitty Gritty before casting the statue in bronze. Its name, "True Grit," is actually the name of Nitty Gritty’s father. In an interview with UMBC Magazine, Raye said that she wasn’t exactly sure "why the mascot received that name [True Grit instead of Nitty Gritty] … other than it sounded bold and strong like the [school’s] team."