|U of M Will Unveil John Wilder Sculpture August 10
For release: August 2, 2007
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In honor of John S. Wilder’s many years of service to the people of Tennessee, the citizens of his native Fayette County have given the University of Memphis a bronze bust of the former lieutenant governor for permanent display just inside the main entrance of the John S. Wilder Tower.
The bust will be unveiled Friday, Aug. 10, at 10:30 a.m. in the foyer of the tower, which is on the U of M campus near the corner of Walker Avenue and Patterson Street. The public is invited to attend.
The sculpture was created by Bartlett artist Ellen McGowan, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the U of M.
Wilder served in Tennessee’s 81st and 85th-105th General Assemblies. He was speaker of the Senate from 1971 to 2006 and in that capacity also served as the state’s lieutenant governor.
“As a lawmaker, planter, and humanitarian from Fayette County, Governor Wilder has served the State of Tennessee and the Mid-South well,” said U of M President Shirley Raines. “This thoughtful gift from the people of Fayette County will serve as a reminder to our students, faculty, and staff, and to everyone who visits our campus, of all that Governor Wilder has done for the University of Memphis and for higher education throughout his tenure in the Tennessee Legislature.”
The tower was built in 1967 as the University’s library, with more than 100,000 square feet of space. After the new Ned R. McWherter Library opened in 1994, the tower was designated for its current use. Partly through the efforts of Wilder, the University obtained state funding to renovate the building to accommodate all student services, including admissions, registration, financial aid, and bursar's office. The reconfigured building was formally dedicated as the John S. Wilder Tower in 2003.
Sculptor McGowan creates works in a wide variety of materials, including bronze, concrete, and clay. Her award-winning pieces are included in numerous corporate and private collections throughout the United States and abroad. She works by commission and also designs garden sculptures for Mid-South Ornamental Concrete.
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