OBU will unveil a statue of former OBU President and Chancellor Dr. John Wesley Raley during Homecoming 2015. The unveiling ceremony will take place Friday, Nov. 6, at 12:30 p.m. The statue will be located on the south lawn of Raley Chapel on the OBU campus in Shawnee.
Raley served as the University’s eighth president from 1934-61, the longest presidential tenure in OBU history. He was chairman of the OBU Board of Trustees at the time of his election. Following his presidency, he served as the University’s only chancellor, from 1961-68.
He led the University through the Great Depression, through World War II, and into a time of unprecedented growth. He personally designed the University seal, and was responsible for the construction of many buildings on campus, including the iconic Raley Chapel, which opened in 1961 and bears his name.
The statue was created by Texas artist Bob Harness, a Shawnee native. It is fashioned of bronze and will be posed facing the southwest, in reference to a poem by Arthur Hugh Clough, which Raley frequently quoted. This poem will be featured on the pedestal, along with three other plaques, including his inaugural prayer, his biographical information and a quote.
The statue project was funded through private donations, largely provided by friends and members of the Raley family. Former Oklahoma State Senator James Howell, ’56, led the fundraising effort.
Dr. Will Smallwood, vice president for university advancement, will open the ceremony and acknowledge the Raley family and special guests. OBU President Dr. David W. Whitlock will offer remarks regarding Dr. Raley’s impact on Bison Hill. Harness will discuss the process of creating the sculpture, while Senator Howell will reflect on student life at OBU during the Raley years.
The statue will then be unveiled, with Dr. John Wesley Raley, Jr., delivering remarks on behalf of the family.
Guests are invited to stay and attend a special homecoming worship service in Stubblefield Chapel at 1:30 p.m., followed by a reception in the Cargill Advancement and Alumni Center from 2:30-4 p.m. The Cargill Center is the former home to OBU’s presidents, originally opening in 1949. The Raleys were the first presidential family to live in the home.