Big Red statue planned for Alumni Center

Jonathan Lintner

Big Red will soon join the likes of Henry Hardin Cherry and E. A. Diddle as a statue at WKU.

A Big Red statue will sit in the plaza outside of the new Augenstein Alumni Center, said Donald Smith, assistant vice president for the WKU Alumni Association.

Groundbreaking for the new alumni center is set for July 15, and officials have said they hope to have the building finished sometime during the fall of 2012.

Smith said varied renderings for the Big Red statue are in the works, with the exact pose still to be determined.

“There are elements of each one we like, so we’re still working through the final rendering,” he said.

The Young Alumni Council has spearheaded efforts to raise money for the statue, which will be sculpted by Russ Faxon, who also worked on statues of Diddle and Robert Guthrie.

Faxon, a WKU graduate now living in Bell Buckle, Tenn., said the Big Red statue will have the same bronze makeup of the Diddle and Guthrie statues and will stand about six feet tall.

He said that once WKU decides how it wants the statue to look, he’ll make a small-scale model of it in clay. A rubber mold is then shaped around the clay and filled with wax.

“They melt the wax out of that mold, and then they pour bronze in,” Faxon said.

Faxon received his bachelor’s degree in art education from WKU in 1973. He’s since sculpted statues in Europe and the U.S. using the casting process known as “lost wax.”

“It’s an honor to be able to wind up serving the school again after all the school has given to me,” he said. “It’s extremely meaningful, and it makes me proud.”

Big Red, silent as always, was not available for comment. But Paula Davids, known by most as “Big Red’s mom,” called the project a “win-win situation” for WKU. She said it’s important that people soon won’t have to see Big Red in person to get a picture with him.

Davids was a WKU student in 1979 when the university designed Big Red. Now she works out of WKU’s athletics marketing department.

“It’s kind of come full circle now that I’m in charge of Big Red,” she said. “To know where it came from in 1979 until today — the popularity — it’s unimaginable to me.”