Mission and Identity

Quo Vadis Sculpture

"Quo Vadis" in Latin, means "Where are you going?" This sculpture was designed to commemorate the 2001 inauguration of Fr. Michael J. Graham, S.J. as the 34th president of Xavier University. As students pass from the residential mall to class it reminds us to think about the direction of our lives. What do I value?

The following lines were read at the scuplture's dedication:

"The sculpture, titled 'Quo Vadis,' is an 18-foot-tall, interactive, stainless steel structure. It is a giant scale, with moving arms and weights on which are inscribed words in five languages: English, Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew and Armenian. Viewer-participants are invited to choose from the set of weights, inscribed with words that describe universal values, and to place them in the pans of the scale.

Initially viewers have a choice of 12 values and are forced to think about each of them carefully and make a selection indicative of their priorities. In the process, they are forced to make choices about these values and to re-examine the relative importance they assign to them. What is more important: Memory? Knowledge? Justice? Wealth? Compassion? Faith? Hope? Love? Health? Beauty? Happiness? Fate? Then, if viewers decide to balance the scale, they have to tackle the issue of the combination of values; are, for example, "faith" and "compassion" in one tray equivalent to "happiness" and "love?" Or are "memory" and "justice" comparable to "hope" and "knowledge?" It is entirely up to viewers to select, mix, balance or leave unbalanced the values in any combination they wish. In the process viewers are faced with making choices that are reflective of their life values."

- Gagik Aroutiunian
The Artist's Vision Statement

There is also an ancient legend that when the apostle Peter fled from Rome's ruthless persecution of Christians at Nero's command, he met a man traveling towards Rome. When Peter famously asked "Quo Vadis?" meaning "Where are you going?" the man, who was none other than Christ, responded that he was walking to Rome to be crucified for a second time. Peter, realizing that he had let fear overwhelm him, returned to Rome where he suffered martyrdom.

- see A History of the Popes, p. 16, by John W. O'Malley, SJ

Quick Facts

Artist: Gagik Aroutiunian
Dedicated: April 15, 2004
Medium: Stainless Steel
Height: 18'
Location: Between Brockman and Kuhlman Halls
Additional Notes:

  • Quo Vadis is Latin for "Where are you going?"
  • Gagik Aroutiunian was a former Xavier faculty member

Plaque Inscription:
Quo Vadis
by Gagik Aroutiunian

Commemorating the inauguration of
Michael J. Graham, S.J.

34th President of Xavier University