Nearly 100 people attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the Missouri Southern State University Lion Icon Statue Thursday, May 2. MSSU President Bruce Speck recognized the Student Senate for providing a substantial portion of the funding needed create the statue that will be situated in the center of the campus.
Along with the Student Senate, MSSU Foundation supporters Bill and Tracy Gipson were recognized for support in making the project a reality. Bill Gipson was an Outstanding Alumni Award recipient in 2002 and has volunteered to support MSSU in various capacity throughout the years, including serving on the MSSU Foundation Board of Directors. Bill was the University's Commencement speaker in May 2011. Tracy Gipson is a 1979 MSSU graduate. The Gipson's are both retired. "We are pleased to work with the Student Senate to bring this iconic symbol to the University campus," said the Gipsons. "The lion is an important part of Missouri Southern's history and it is time for it to take a prominent place on our campus."
Student Senate President, Taylor Haas, expressed the excitement that the Student Senate shares in seeing this project come to fruition. "The Student Senate has been trying to get a project like this completed for several years and we are very happy to see it finally done," Hass said. "We are proud to be a part of such a huge project on campus and are excited that, thanks to the donation from the Gipsons, such a bold icon can be placed on our Oval."
The bronze statue will be 10 feet tall and 12 feet long, surrounded by a 5,400-square-foot plaza. The area also will feature seating and lighting. A lion will be created for Missouri Southern by Brian Hanlon of Hanlon Sculpture Studio in Toms River, N.J. The bronze lion is one of Hanlon's more than 200 original art pieces that can be found in locations around the world. The artist also created a statue of Shaquille O'Neil for Louisiana State University, "The Pirate," a famous statue at Seton Hall University in New York, as well as art for many other universities across the nation.
The plaza will be constructed by RDG Planning and Design of Des Moines, Iowa. RDG Planning and Design helped the University develop its most recent Master Facilities Plan.