The leaping cougar, designed by Avard T. Fairbanks, is a prominent symbol of Washington State University. Fairbanks’s bronze cougar sculptures are displayed on all four WSU campuses. They were given by the WSU Alumni Association to show statewide Cougar pride.
Fairbanks (1897-1987) created more than 100 public monuments, four of which are in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. He also created the original Dodge ram hood ornament.
He studied art in New York and Paris and earned a Ph.D. in anatomy at the University of Michigan, where he was also professor of sculpture. He was the founding dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Utah, his home state.