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Tiger Sculpture
Tiger Sculpture

 TOM has arrived!

 TOM sculpture

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 these commissions."

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 events. 

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.

Centennial Anniversary

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 campus landmark. 

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 trees. 

To see the tiger sculpture location, click HERE.

Inquiries

Inquiries may be made by contacting Bobby Prince at (901) 678-1335 and by email tigersculpture@memphis.edu

The Project - A Tiger Sculpture

The Tiger Nickname: A History, Spirit and Tradition

Centennial Anniversary

Meet The Artist

Location of Sculpture

Inquiries

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Last Updated: 3/31/14