University formally dedicates 'Wings of Thought' honoring Francis Alison
10:13 a.m., May 9, 2012--The University of Delaware's newest public work of art was dedicated Tuesday, May 8, to the institution's founder, the Rev. Francis Alison, and to faculty members who reflect the 18th century educator's "scholar-schoolmaster" ideal.
The 8-by-10-foot "Wings of Thought," created by acclaimed sculptor Richard Deutsch, is an open book, carved on the left side with depictions reflecting Alison's intellectual interests and the “Heck Reaction” in honor of UD faculty member and Nobel Laureate Richard Heck. A bronze quill pen stands next to the book.
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The sculpture was commissioned to be the centerpiece of Mentors' Circle, between Hullihen Hall, Morris Library and Memorial Hall. The circle was created in 2001 to recognize UD faculty members who have been honored for excellence in teaching and advising by installing bricks bearing their names.
Now, with the addition of the sculpture, the circle itself has been reconstructed. The bricks were replaced by new ones engraved with the names of the faculty honorees, and granite pavers displaying the names of recipients of the Francis Alison Award, the University's highest faculty honor, also were installed around the sculpture.
"For more than a decade, Mentors’ Circle has celebrated the University’s sustained commitment to the development of our students our commitment to teaching and guiding them," President Patrick Harker said at Tuesday's ceremony.
"We’re calling this ceremony a dedication, but in truth, the piece was dedicated from the moment it was commissioned dedicated to our founder, the Rev. Francis Alison, and to the faculty whose profound commitment to research and to teaching perpetuates the 'scholar–schoolmaster' principle on which he built UD."
Also speaking at the dedication were Carol Hoffecker, Richards Professor Emerita of History, who outlined some of the history of Francis Alison and of the faculty award given in his name, and Janet Hethorn, professor and chair of the Department of Art, co-chair of the sculpture selection committee with Debra Hess Norris, Henry Francis du Pont Chair in Fine Arts. Hethorn noted that the committee reflected the UD community, including faculty, staff, students and friends.
Deutsch also spoke at the dedication, calling his selection "a wonderful honor." After researching UD's history, he said, he faced a "daunting task" of creating a piece that would recall the University's long history while remaining relevant into the future.
Harker praised "Wings of Thought" as "a tribute to those things we prize above all else: curiosity, creativity, discovery and invention, the consuming pursuit of knowledge and the eager sharing of it."
To view the award recipients whose names are engraved on the bricks in Mentors' Circle, see the lists of faculty recipients of the Excellence in Teaching Award, those honored with the Excellence in Undergraduate Advising Award and recipients of the Outstanding Advising and Mentoring Award for those who advised doctoral students and for those who advised master's degree students.
To view the names on the pavers honoring all recipients of the Francis Alison Award, who make up the Francis Alison Society, see this list.
Article by Ann Manser
Photos by Evan Krape