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ONU to Commission Founder's Statue

Oct 16, 2006

Ohio Northern University announces a competition to create a large-scale bronze sculpture in honor of the university’s founder, Dr. Henry Solomon Lehr (1839-1923). The sculpture will stand in the round garden that is positioned on the sidewalk that runs between the new, state-of-the-art James F. Dicke College of Business building and the historic Hill building erected in 1915. It will be clearly visible from Main Street and stand as a symbol of the continuity between the vision of the founding father and the reality of that vision today.

The concept for the sculpture originated with history professor, Dr. John Lomax, who began thinking about the project a year ago after a particularly moving commencement ceremony that featured “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” That epic song reminded Lomax of Lehr’s selfless service and courage during the Civil War, where despite his diminutive stature, he served as an infantryman, fell ill, then finished out the war in the medical corps. Lehr fought to preserve a community of free citizens. He had the full experience of war, but it didn’t make him cynical or divert him from his commitment to education, Lomax said.

Dr. Lehr was a visionary, committed to educational principles, the Christian faith and good citizenship. “His vision when he founded the school in 1871 still drives the university today,” said Dr. Lomax. “His approach was to encourage students to academic and professional excellence, active citizenship and Christian faith, without forcing his beliefs on them.”

The university is seeking proposals from artists to create the sculpture. A university committee will review the submissions and choose five finalists to come to campus to make their final presentations. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 1, 2006.

The budget for the bronze sculpture has been provided by an anonymous donor.

The project is open to artists (or teams of artists) who are at least 21 years old, who live in Ohio or a bordering state, and who demonstrate a level of experience and professionalism that is commensurate with the project’s scope and budget.

For more information, please contact the ONU President’s office at (419) 772-2030 or