ST. GEORGE — One of Dixie State University’s most illustrious and beloved professors, Dr. Andrew H. Barnum, was honored with a bronze statue of himself Friday.
A crowd of more that 200 people gathered for the statue’s unveiling ceremony in front of DSU’s Science Building, which featured a short speech by Barnum himself.
“Please excuse me for reading this,” Barnum said at the beginning of his remarks. “At the age of 93, I forget words and even names, and that is sometimes embarrassing … when you reach this age, you’ll see what it’s all about.”
Barnum then went on to talk about some of the highlights of his illustrious career. He recalled being surprised by the idea of being honored with a statue when it was first suggested to him a couple years ago.
“I have no objection, but I still wonder why,” he said.
Annette Barnum, the youngest of Barnum’s four daughters, helped answer that question during her opening remarks, relating many highlights of her father’s life.
After serving in World War II, Barnum graduated as Dixie State College’s valedictorian in 1947. He went on to receive his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brigham Young University, followed by his Ph.D. from Iowa State University before returning to Dixie State to teach biology.
“It always came down to wanting to be here at Dixie,” Annette Barnum said of her parents’ decision to move back to Southern Utah after her father finished his doctorate studies.
Andrew Barnum then spent 36 years as a professor and administrator at Dixie State before retiring in 1995. Even after retirement, Barnum continued to work at the university, including as curator and director for the Museum of Natural Science, which he helped found.
Some of Barnum’s other accomplishments include serving as the school’s tennis coach and planting and taking care of the campus’s desert garden. He also was a mentor for countless medical and dental students, along with those in other biological science fields. Many of his former students and their families were on hand to witness Friday’s statue unveiling, as were many of Barnum’s descendants.
Noted pathology researcher and author Greg Prince, who also spoke during the ceremony, called his former professor and mentor “the embodiment of what Dixie stands for.”
“He was the toughest teacher I’ve ever had, and also the best,” Prince said, adding it was Barnum’s tireless work with students outside the lecture hall that made him so outstanding.
Richard “Biff” Williams, president of Dixie State University, and Eric Pedersen, dean of Science and Technology at DSU, also spoke briefly and praised Barnum for his many years of dedication to the university and its students.
“We’re just so pleased about this,” said Annette Barnum. “He has always been my hero, and I’m really glad now that there’s a statue of him so that future generations can come to know him and to come and see what he was about and who he was.”
The sculpture, which was completed, delivered and installed just days earlier, was created by local artist Annette Everett. Everett said she based it on an image of Barnum holding a snake, which she found in a copy of Dixie State’s 1964 yearbook. The statue also depicts a small alligator resting at the bespectacled, suit-wearing Barnum’s feet.
Everett said she created a 24-inch high model of the statue a couple years ago, then rushed to make a life-size version once the artwork received final approval and funding. She said she was especially pleased that Dr. Barnum was able to see and appreciate the unveiling in person.
“I wanted to finish this and have it done while he was still here,” Everett said.
Funding for the statue came from the contributions of several generous donors.
After pulling on the ribbon to remove the wrapping and reveal the statue, Barnum smiled and posed in front of it as he greeted numerous well-wishers after the ceremony.
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