K is for KERMIT!
Really, what else could K stand for but Kermit?!
When you ask who is our most famous alumnus/alumna, the most frequent answer you receive is Jim Henson, creator of the world-renowned and much-beloved Muppets. The best-known of Jim’s characters is Kermit the Frog, although Miss Piggy might give you an argument there…Jim created Kermit from an old coat of his mother’s and two ping-pong balls while he was still a student at the University of Maryland. He started his fabulous frog on the road to stardom with appearances on the local television show “Sam and Friends,” which Jim created on WRC-TV, the NBC affiliate in Washington, DC.
Jim Henson with early Kermit. Photo by Philip Geraci.
Jim and Jane Henson on the set at WRC-TV. Photo by Philip Geraci.
Their partnership is immortalized in a bronze statue of the two of them in conversation by Jay Hall Carpenter at the west end of the Stamp Student Union along Campus Drive. This special piece was a gift of the Classes of 1994, 1998, and 1999, and was dedicated on September 24, 2003, on what would have been Jim Henson’s 67th birthday. Jim and Kermit are surrounded by a lovely garden, and this entire spot has become a favorite place for campus photo ops.
Oddly enough this is not the only place that “Kermit” appears on campus. His name is carved into the capstone of the parapet wall on the left side of the stairs to the entrance to the Kent Hall dormitory on South Hill. This appearance is quite mysterious, however, since Jim Henson never stayed in this dorm. His family lived in University Park, just south of campus, so there was no reason for him to incur the added expense of dormitory life during his undergraduate days as a home economics major. Who added this carving to Kent Hall and when is unknown.
Kermit carving at Kent Hall
This is the 11th post in our series on Terrapin Tales called ABC’s of UMD! Posts will come out twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, throughout the semester. If you want to learn more about campus history, check back weekly to see what we’ve picked to highlight, and you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.
Do you have other ABC’s about campus? Let us know in the comments below!
Check back on Friday, October 9, for Letter L!