DSU unveils statue design to honor ex-president Holland

DOVER — Delaware State University’s planned Dr. Jerome Holland statue took its physical form on Oct. 14 during a reception on the campus for homecoming week.

The reception showcased a scale model that depicted what the eventual statue for the university’s former president will look like. The event, also thrown to help promote the new fundraising brick drive, had a larger turnout that anticipated.

“We were thinking that about 50 people would show up, but there was over 75,” said Charity Shockley, DSU’s director of giving and grants. “There was a lot of interest and we had some people buying bricks on the spot.”

Ms. Shockley, who co-chairs the fundraising sub-committee that’s making arrangements for the statue, said the brick drive offers interested patrons the opportunity to support the project by buying a paver that will line the walkway surrounding the statue. The brick pavers are available for between $100 and $5,000 and come in different sizes.

All together, there are about 1,500 pavers for sale, and she said that the effort is estimated to raise in excess of $200,000. At the reception, three of the limited-supply $5000 bricks were sold.

At about 19 inches tall, the Dr. Jerome Holland scale model presented at the Oct. 14 reception is 1/5 the size of the final statue. Made out of silicon bronze, an industry standard material, the statue will stand approximately 8 to 9 feet tall. (Submitted photo)

At about 19 inches tall, the Dr. Jerome Holland scale model presented at the Oct. 14 reception is 1/5 the size of the final statue. Made out of silicon bronze, an industry standard material, the statue will stand approximately 8 to 9 feet tall. (Submitted photo)

“Once the all the bricks are sold, the entire statue project will be fully funded and we will have additional funding that we plan to endow for statue maintenance and scholarships,” said Ms. Shockley.

In 2015, when the statue project was announced, the Delaware State News reported that Dr. Jerome Holland might well be considered the indispensable man in the history of Delaware State University.

When he arrived in Dover in 1953 to take the helm of what was then Delaware State College, the institution was adrift in turbulence.

The Middle States Commission of Higher Education had revoked the college’s accreditation in 1949. The institution that had been established in 1891 to give blacks access to higher education was on the verge of sinking after 62 years of struggling to raise standards, build academic programs and grow a college where a plantation once had existed.

Don Blakey, an alumnus, former instructor, coach and co-chairman of the Dr. Jerome Holland Statue Committee, said that through force of personality and drive, Dr. Holland “turned the ship around.”

The university resolved to honor its sixth president with a statue so students could be reminded daily of Dr. Holland’s importance.

DSU broke ground on the project on Oct. 23 last year. The statue will be erected on the triangle plot of grass located at the front end of the University’s Pedestrian Mall.

The committee initiated a bidding process last year to secure a sculptor for the project and decided on Brad Vanneman of Wilmington in February.

“It was luck that I heard about the project.” said Mr. Vanneman. “A landscaper I had worked with on a previous project in Smyrna was bidding on the upkeep of the plaza that the statue will be situated in and he told me about it.”

The statue in Smyrna, completed in 2012, was for the Delaware AeroSpace Education Foundation. Mr. Vanneman was also responsible for the American Heart Association statues set on the Wilmington river walk behind the Iron Hill Brewery.

Mr. Vanneman said that the original design of the statue was based off a photo of Mr. Holland delivering a speech, but it evolved from there.

“I thought it might be kind of boring to have him behind the podium, so my idea was to have him stepped out and to the side of a smaller lectern. That puts more emphasis on him,” he said.

At about 19 inches, the scale model presented at the reception is 1/5 the size of the final product. Mr. Vanneman says the statue will stand approximately 8 to 9 feet and be made out of silicon bronze, an industry standard material for outdoor statuary.

“He’ll be set on a two-tiered base made out of granite and composite bricks,” he said. “The bottom tier is almost at ground level and the next tier creates a sort of bench. He’ll be well above eye-level.”

Ms. Shockley estimates that the project will be fully completed by May 2017 on the early side and October 2017 at the latest. She said interest around the statue is growing, and when it’s all said and done, visitors may even be afforded the opportunity to take a little Dr. Holland home with them.

“After Brad is finished with the model, he said he can create a mold of it so we can eventually sell miniatures,” she said.

People interested in purchasing a brick can visit desu.edu/development/dr-jerome-holland-statue-brick-drive for more information.

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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