TOM has arrived!
When University of Memphis alumni came to campus the weekend of April 20, 2012 to
celebrate their alma mater's 100th anniversary, they were able to meet and greet each
other, renew acquaintances with former professors, and tour familiar sites on campus.
But this year, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the University got their first
glimpse at a statue that will be a permanent monument to the U of M's Centennial.
A life-size bronze replica of tiger mascot TOM was unveiled during a ceremony just
west of the University Center. Created by noted sculptor David Alan Clark at his Lander
Wyoming studio, the 1,000-pound statue is a mixture of attributes from all three tigers
who have served the University as TOM. It stands on an inclined surface and symbolizes
the value of obtaining a college degree.
"There are very few major universities that do not have a mascot on campus already,"
said Clark, who also created the bronze rescue-scene statue for Tom Lee Park on the
Memphis riverfront. "I am always grateful for the trust that is placed in me to do
The statue was entirely funded through private gifts. Donors of at least $100 toward
the initiative have their names inscribed adjacent to the sculpture. The University
recognized donors of $10,000 or more on the base of the sculpture itself.
The Tiger Nickname: A History, Spirit and Tradition
The origin of the tiger nickname dates to a 1914 football game parade, where several
students shouted, “We fight like Tigers!” The nickname was born, and was adopted as
the official nickname of the University of Memphis in 1939. Today, the tiger nickname
is synonymous with the University and is widely used across campus and during sporting
For almost 40 years, the sideline mascot for the University of Memphis has been a
live Bengal Tiger named TOM (Tigers of Memphis). TOM attends all Tiger football home
games, and he can also be seen at many other University events throughout the year.
TOM travels in a custom-designed, climate-controlled trailer with much fanfare. As
a powerful and majestic symbol of the University of Memphis, his presence presents
continued opportunities to engage Tiger fans of all ages through the preservation
of one of the world's most recognizable endangered species.
The first TOM was secured in 1972 and served the University for 20 years. He died
in 1992 and was replaced by TOM II who was much admired as mascot until his death
in 2008. TOM III now lives on as the official mascot of the University.
The year 2012 marks the centennial anniversary of the University of Memphis. The University
is now engaged in strategic planning to commemorate this historical milestone. Celebrations
and events will officially kick-off in the fall of 2011, with numerous other programs
and initiatives occurring through the end of 2012.
A signature part of the Centennial celebrations will include the unveiling of the
tiger sculpture during the spring of 2012. The bronze tiger is intended as a means
of commemorating the University’s past, heightening campus spirit, and creating new
traditions. Perhaps students will rub the tiger’s paw for good luck on the way to
an exam, or graduating seniors, dressed in commencement regalia, will have their pictures
taken near the sculpture. It will also attract alumni back to campus to see the new
Meet the Artist
David Alan Clark, a native of Wyoming, has been chosen to create the bronze tiger
sculpture. He is a nationally renowned artist who has created many works, one of which
can be found in Tom Lee Park in downtown Memphis. The Tom Lee Monument is one of many installations that can be found nation-wide.
Click on the photo below to watch David Alan Clark talk about the importance of this
and his other works.
Location of Sculpture
Opened in spring 2010, the new University Center (UC) provides a fitting backdrop
for a sculpture that is symbolic of the University’s mascot. The tiger sculpture will
be placed in front of the main entrance on the west side of the UC where students
meet to enjoy a meal, study, or simply spend time with fellow classmates.
This location is ideal because of its proximity to the future Centennial Alumni Mall.
Planned as a second phase of this project, the Mall will extend from the historic
Administration Building to Walker Avenue. A concept rendering calls for the Mall to
be designed as a park-like setting lined with embedded benches and landscaped with
To see the tiger sculpture location, click HERE.
Inquiries may be made by contacting Bobby Prince at (901) 678-1335 and by email email@example.com