For release: April 4, 2012
For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901/678-2843
When University of Memphis alumni come to campus the weekend of April 20 to celebrate
their alma mater’s 100th anniversary, they’ll meet and greet each other, renew acquaintances with former professors,
and tour familiar sites on campus. But this year, but they’ll also get the first
glimpse at a statue that will be a permanent monument to the U of M’s Centennial,
and they’ll be invited to initiate a new ritual.
A life-size bronze replica of tiger mascot TOM will be unveiled at a 1 p.m. ceremony
just west of the University Center. The unveiling is open to the public; parking
will be provided in the parking garage accessible from Zach Curlin.
Once the sculpture is in place, the University community is invited to participate
in creating new U of M traditions – rubbing the tiger’s front paw for luck or posing
next to the statue for a photo in cap and gown.
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 will stand on an inclined surface and symbolize 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
Inside the statue’s base will be a time capsule filled with items representing the
University’s Centennial year. Faculty, staff, and students submitted ideas for items
to go in the capsule, such as commencement programs and athletic memorabilia. A list
of the items is available online at http://www.memphis.edu/centennial/timecapsule.php. A plaque on the outside will reveal the date when the capsule will be opened.
The statue is entirely funded through private gifts. Donors of at least $100 toward
the initiative will have their names inscribed adjacent to the sculpture. The University
will recognize donors of $10,000 or more on the sculpture itself.
Bronze casting requires molding a 24-inch wax version, enlarging it to a foam model,
then covering that with clay. Clark’s local foundry will create the bronze panels
and weld the 40 pieces. The statue will travel by flatbed truck to the U of M where
it will sit atop a triple-tiered crescent base in front of the University Center’s
main entrance, adjacent to the future Centennial Alumni Mall.
“Forever is a long time, but there really is not an end date on this type of artwork,”
Clark said. “TOM the tiger could easily be around in 2312.”