The Statues on the Tower

By James Main Dixon
From Alumni Magazine, April 1921, pp. 4-5. Courtesy of University Archives.

Now that the eight statues of representative man have been placed in their elevated positions at the four corners of the massive central tower of the new Administration Building, it is well to answer the question, "Who are the elect eight and why they were chosen?" This was the practical question before a committee which met in the office of the President many months ago.

While a university is an institution with a world outlook and an international welcome, yet it is meant first and last to send forth graduates having a certain type of personality; good citizens, defenders of righteousness and godliness, men and women who first of all know and love their own language, institutions and traditions. Only in a secondary sense is a university cosmopolitan.

Founded by the great Methodist Episcopal church to meet the calls of the higher education on this Pacific Cost, our University must be true to the ideals of its founders. The noble religious leader whose "parish was the world," was himself a devoted son of the most ancient and dignified of British seats of learning, and was specifically proud of being a Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford. Wherever there is a Methodist community the name of John Wesley is honored; and accordingly the statue of John Wesley stands at the right hand corner of the main front facing University Avenue.

At the left hand corer is the statue of the great leader of Methodism in our country during the stirring times of the Civil War, the gifted orator and administrator, Bishop Matthew Simpson, friend and counselor of Abraham Lincoln. Not only was Matthew Simpson a graduate of an old Pennsylvania institution, Madison College, later absorbed in Allegheny College, but he was on its faculty for a time. Thence he went to study medicine, returning as an M. D. to be professor of chemistry in his Alma Mater. From this post he was called to be president of De Pauw University (then known as Indiana Asbury), where he served with distinction for nine years. For four years thereafter he was editor of the Western Christian Advocate, until his election as Bishop by the General Conference in 1852. His varied accomplishments - scientific, academic, editorial - gave a dignity to his personality; and no better American could have been chosen to be known, admired and copies by patriotic undergraduates than this gifted Methodist bishop. It was he, who at the age of three score and ten, laid the foundation stone of our first building; and we should be proud of the fact.

For the north front, facing the old campus, the two men chosen were representative American statesmen: Abraham Lincoln, whose name is so dear to every lover of this country, the lofty-minded and magnanimous soul who saved the Union; and Theodore Roosevelt, embodiment of passionate patriotism and advocate of the highest ideals in though and conduct. He may be termed the first distinctly academic political personage to become President of the United States. It is to his lasting honor that his historical studies, such as the Winning of the West and the History of the Naval War of 1812-14, mark an advance in the quality of such works, owing to the judiciousness they display. So fair and impartial was the latter of these two studies, that the volumes have been embodied in the British History of Naval Warfare, published in London.

The statues on the west front are those of distinctly classical figures, whose thought and language lie at the base of all our higher learning. Cicero, whose statue adorns the northwest corner, spoke that sonorous and weighty tongue, the language of European culture for fifteen centuries, with a grace and rhythm that made Ciceronian Latin an ideal for every scholar. On the southwest corner stands Plato, the philosopher of philosophers, the acute thinker for succeeding ages, the idealist who has so inspired our Christian poets and thinker.

Lastly, on the south front, are two typical American leaders of religious and philosophic thought, embodiments of spiritual ideals linked to wisdom and learning. The personality of Phillips Brooks, representative bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in this country for so many years, made itself felt at Harvard University, his own university, in a remarkable and profound way, heightening the ideals of student life. At the southeast corner stands the statue of another Bostonian, one of the two or three leading American philosophers of modern times. Borden P. Bowne, apostle of Personalism, whose influence went far beyond the Methodist university and the Methodist community to which he belonged. His philosophy is the philosophy not only of today but of tomorrow; and his face and figure are singularly appropriate in the high elevation they occupy, as sympathetic with the flow of youthful idealism which will pass through the corridors below in the years to come.


Back to: Bovard sculptures