Statue of Edgar Odell Lovett commissioned
Published: Friday, August 20, 2010
Updated: Sunday, March 20, 2011 18:03
While most students recognize Edgar Odell Lovett's name as part of the history of the university, a sculpture of Rice's first president commissioned by Rice for the Centennial Celebration, slated to be unveiled in October 2012, aims to honor Lovett while imparting his importance to Rice's current status with the Rice community. History Professor John Boles, who has written several books about Rice's history, said that Lovett is the person most responsible for what the university has become. The 1891 Rice charter was a vague document, Boles said, and the trustees hired Lovett, a young mathematician and astronomer from Princeton University, to travel around the world observing various existing academic institutions and turn the charter into a definite plan for the university.
"Lovett turned the charter into an intellectual blueprint of how to create a great university, including ideas of the honor and college systems," Boles said. "Rice University is the lengthened shadow of Lovett."
Lovett served as president of The Rice Institute from its inception in 1912 until 1946.
The sculpture will be made by Bruce Wolfe, who has also sculpted Barbara Jordan for The University of Texas at Austin and Margaret Thatcher for Hillsdale College.
University Art Director Molly Hipp Hubbard said that Wolfe was selected from a number of American and international artists who were considered.
"Wolfe just stood out," Hubbard said. "The quality we really liked was that his statues didn't seem frozen in time - he has the ability to imbue his sculptures with movement and vitality."
Hubbard said that when Wolfe was first approached about the sculpture, funding for the project still needed to be procured, but Wolfe agreed to draw several sketches to help get funding.
The sketches were shown to the Wortham Foundation, which agreed to a $300,000 grant with the condition that Rice raise the other $400,000, about $350,000 of which has been raised to date, Hubbard said. She said this will make up the sculpture's $700,000 budget.
The sculpture will be located in front of Keck Hall, specifically in front of the building's campanile, Hubbard said. This site is significant because it was here that he gave his last address as president of the university, introducing his successor, William V. Houston.
"Most Rice students view [Lovett] as a historical figure, not someone who impacted Rice in a direct way," Rice Centennial Ambassador Bradley Houston (Baker '10) said. "The idea of a statue in that location is very powerful to me - through his vision we are continuing into the second century."
Several possible designs are still being considered for the sketch, Hubbard said, though Lovett will definitely be standing.
Lovett College sophomore Eric Lee said that he thinks it's important that people know about Lovett's contribution to Rice.
"His posture should be one of looking for inspiration and perspective," Lee said. "He's envisioning the future - he's staring out and looking far away, to sum up all of his accomplishments into one posture.