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Trinity Installs Artwork of Former President James Laurie

The unveiling recalls Trinity’s 14th president, architect
of the ‘Miracle on the Hill’

By Russell Guerrero'83

Krista's note

Bust of James W. Laurie, Trinity’s 14th president, created by Philip Evett, professor emeritus of art. The sculpture will be on display in Laurie Auditorium.

September 2010 —
It was a homecoming for many members of the Trinity community and included current and retired faculty and staff, current and former board of trustees, and even a few former University presidents. 

All were gathered for the installation and unveiling of a bust of Dr. James W. Laurie, who served as Trinity’s 14th president from 1951 to 1970.  The event took place on Monday, Sept. 13, inside Laurie Auditorium, a building named in honor of the former president. The bust, a polychrome work cast in hard plaster, was created by Philip J. Evett, emeritus professor of art who taught sculpture at Trinity from 1962 until 1988. 

The event provided a time to remember the accomplishments of one of Trinity’s longest serving presidents (only Dr. Ronald Calgaard, Trinity’s 16th president from 1979 to 1999, served longer.) Laurie became president as Trinity moved to its final home on the Skyline Campus. He was responsible for “the Miracle on the Hill,” the construction of most of the buildings on the campus as well as the intellectual and academic growth of the University.

Speaking at the unveiling, Trinity president Dennis A. Ahlburg said Laurie made a distinctive impact on Trinity. “He positioned the University to become an outstanding institution and a very important cultural and economic asset to the city of San Antonio.”

Evett told the audience that he was inspired to create the work by Laurie’s inner character and vision.  “I was so impressed with him because of his tremendous forceful commitment,” said Evett, adding “he was so proud of the students and the faculty.”

Krista's note
Presidential row: (from left to right) former president Ronald Calgaard, Genie Calgaard, President Dennis A. Ahlburg, Peggy Wimpress, Philip Evett, and former president Duncan Wimpress pose in front of a bust of former president James Laurie.

After the unveiling several people spoke about the artwork, Laurie’s legacy, and how far Trinity has come.

“I think it is a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man,” said Dr. Duncan Wimpress, Laurie’s handpicked successor and Trinity’s 15th president from 1970 until 1976. He added that he was pleased to see Trinity has continued to grow.

Frank Kersnowski, professor emeritus of English and a faculty member from 1964 to 2002, praised the sculpture and its installation in Laurie Auditorium. “I think it is a wonderful way to make a tie to Trinity’s history and traditions and bring it into the present,” he said. Kersnowski also said that Laurie would be excited about Trinity today. “It is the fruition of everything he wanted to have happened.”

“It is really great to see so many of longtime friends of Trinity University and longtime friends of Dr. Laurie,” said Trinity Trustee James F. Dicke II, who was instrumental in bringing the sculpture to the Trinity campus.

“What Trinity has done – which is a great testament to the faculty, the trustees, the student body, and the administration – is that year after year steady progress has turned Trinity from a wonderful University into a truly distinguished and great University,” said Dicke.  “I think that sort of consistent progress will continue at Trinity.”

© 2010 Trinity University

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