Sculpted and installed in 1972, the Phoenix Sundial is an important part of Purdue University.  

The stainless steel sundial currently sits on campus at the Memorial Mall. Sadly, the sweeping wing has been missing from the sculpture for decades, and the dial no longer functions correctly. After years of damage, David Wesley, the original creator of the sculpture, and other alumni are trying to get the sundial in working shape again. They are dedicating the rebuild to those who have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will you help us bring back a piece of Boilermaker history?  


"I am dedicating the Phoenix Sundial to all those who have suffered during the months of COVID-19."

- David Wesley, Purdue College of Astronautical and Aeronautical Engineering Alum


The current, damaged Phoenix Sundial (left) compared to Wesley's new design (right)  


What is the history behind the Phoenix Sundial? 

The Phoenix Sundial was first designed by David Wesley, an alum of the College of Astronautical and Aeronautical Engineering, in 1972. 

The original sculpture design was inspired by Wesley's time in the Vietnam War. During his year in Vietnam, Wesley was exposed to Agent Orange, a powerful mixture of chemicals used by military forces during the war, and transported to recover at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital. After being discharged, the idea came to him on a bus ride from Purdue, where he had been visiting his twin brother. 

That summer, Wesley created a clay model for an 8" sundial in the shape of a bird's wing. After showing an art professor his design, Wesley later enrolled in an independent art class where he welded a model made of metal. The director of the Purdue Wind Tunnel Model Shop at the time saw Wesley's designs and spearheaded the sculpture's manufacturing. Nearly three decades after its installation in 1974, the Phoenix Sundial was vandalized. Wesley first noticed the damage in 2000.

In Fall of 2020, Purdue University reached out to David Wesley and asked him to help redesign the sculpture, with the hope of hiring a professional firm to refinish the sculpture to last a lifetime. Wesley estimates that reconstruction will cost around $12,000, with installation costing another $17,000. 

With your generosity, we can rebuild the Phoenix Sundial and make it even better than it was before. Together, we will rise again. 



Photo from the sculpture's original installation in 1974


"The Phoenix Sundial is living up to its name. Created, destroyed, and then resurrected, better than before. That's not only the story of the phoenix or the sundial, but also my life and every American's life."

- David Wesley, Purdue College of Astronautical and Aeronautical Engineering Alum