Joseph Baldwin Statue
The statue of Joseph Baldwin that stands near the south end of the Quad was erected in honor of our founder’s 100th birthday, October 31, 1927. The total $6,000 cost of the project was funded by donations from students, faculty & staff, alumni and the citizens of Kirksville. It was the work of sculptor Leonard Crunelle and was cast by the American Art Bronze Foundry, Chicago. Several members of the Baldwin family were present at the unveiling and dedication on October 20, 1927.
The planning committee’s first choice for the sculptor was artist Lorado Taft, who had recently lectured on campus. Although he was unable to accept the commission, he made some helpful suggestions and recommended his protégée, Leonard Crunelle, who agreed to create from photographs a 7 foot bronze figure mounted on a 5 foot granite pedestal.
The site selected for the statue represented a joining of the old and the new. It was placed at the point where the southern end of the old bridge across Normal Pond had been located, and was just north of the east-west sidewalk between the two newest buildings, Pickler Memorial Library and Kirk Auditorium. The specific spot was selected by Lorado Taft who also suggested that the statue face south to get the best effect from the sun’s light. Though it was not the primary consideration, the fact that Baldwin was standing near and facing the site of his old Normal School building was an added sentimental bonus.
The committee had gotten a late start on the project and by the time the contract was signed at the end of July, Crunelle had only three months to complete the work before Baldwin’s birthday. He didn’t really expect to finish on time – and he didn’t. He had sculpted the figure but was unable to get the bronze casting done before the scheduled dedication, so sent his son to Kirksville with a plaster cast painted bronze to be used for the unveiling. The completed statue was received and set in place the following April, in time for Commencement and the beginning of a new campus tradition, the laying of the wreath.
Laying of the Wreath
The Statue of Joseph Baldwin was unveiled and dedicated in honor of our founder’s 100th birthday in October 1927. In May 1928, at the first commencement following the dedication, the graduating class and faculty paused in their procession so that Class President Lorna Wattenbarger could lay a wreath at the foot of the statue in recognition of Baldwin’s educational ideals and standards. This significant tradition continues to be a part of all spring commencements with the class valedictorian[s] doing the wreath-placing honors.
Seventy-five years after the first wreath was laid, the tradition was expanded to become an important feature of the University’s presidential installations. In 2003, President Barbara Dixon added it to her ceremony and President Troy Paino followed suit in 2010. The academic procession circles the Quad and stops while the new president, accompanied by representatives of the various campus constituencies, places a wreath at the statue’s base.
Flame to the Second Century
The Flame to the Second Century was created in honor of this institution’s 100th birthday and was dedicated at the Centennial Convocation, Sept 2, 1967. As a symbol of transition from one century to the next, the flame was first lit by the College presidents who ended the first and began the second 100 years, along with the Board of Regents President whose term on the Board bridged the two centuries. They were President Emeritus Walter H Ryle (retired 1967), President F Clark Elkins (installed 1967), and Regents President James R Reinhard (Board member 1965-72).
Originally, the flame burned from a ceramic “lamp of knowledge” created by art instructor Richard Miller. It sat atop a ten-foot concrete pillar near the flagpole at the north entrance to the Quad. In the Spring of 1981, it was moved to the south end of the Quad and installed at ground level in a brick-paved courtyard at the entrance to Kirk Memorial. The statue of Joseph Baldwin, the University’s founder, overlooks the courtyard and flame from a few yards away.
The flame is lit for special occasions and ceremonies such as commencement, homecoming and the opening of school each fall, and is an integral part of other commemorative programs and memorial observances.
It burns, for example, during the memorial services held for students who lose their lives while a part of our campus community – and it was lit 9/11. The fact that it does not burn all the time makes it more special when it does – when the flame is alight, something important is happening.