Hidden behind a tarp, the Tiger statue is ready for the unveiling of its refurbished white coat.
The new fence around the Tiger statue is part of the design that will help make the addition to the campus complete, said Phil Hardin, assistant to President Horne. The fence is specifically designed for security. The Ouachita alumni who helped support the restoration of the Tiger were insistent that there would be a plan for protecting the Tiger statue.
This year’s freshman class was the first group to celebrate the Tiger’s restoration at Tigers and Torches during new student orientation.
“I had the opportunity to coordinate the restoration and help raise money to fund it,” Hardin said. “It’s been a pleasure to interact with Ouachita students, staff members, alumni and other friends who have helped make it a reality.”
The Tiger is a symbol of school spirit on campus. Carved by student B. F. Worley in lieu of tuition payments during the Great Depression, it was presented to the college in 1935.
“All funds for the restoration of the Tiger and improvements around the statue were provided by Ouachita students, alumni and friends who wanted to see the Tiger brought back to its original condition,” Hardin said. “There has been interest [in restoration] among our alumni for many years and a recent effort was started by Bill Arrington [who graduated in 1955]. When the technology for restoring the marble Tiger became available, we appealed to our alumni for help, and they contributed generously.”
The Tiger has witnessed years of Ouachita history, enjoyed the loyalty of thousands of Ouachita students and endured many pranks from Ouachita’s rivals, the Reddies of Henderson State University.
“In the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, many attempts were made to throw paint on the Tiger or otherwise damage it, particularly during the week of the Battle of the Ravine,” Hardin said. “Ouachita students guarded the Tiger and many times resisted groups of Henderson students who ventured on our campus with no good intent.
“Unfortunately, the Tiger’s tail was knocked off in 1959,” Hardin added. “Repaired tails also were destroyed and finally the tail was left off, in part to let hard feelings subside. It also was painted gold to help protect the marble from the weather, as well as coats of red paint. In recent years, most of the vandalism has been limited to paint thrown on the Tiger or its stone base during game weeks.”
The Ouachita community decided there was no better time to restore the school’s beloved Tiger to its original state—from teeth to tail—than on its 75th birthday.
“I believe the Tiger is an important symbol of Tiger Spirit,” Hardin said. “I urge all Ouachita students to understand the value of the Tiger and to help their fellow students and guests on our campus understand that it should be protected and preserved for generations to come.”
The restored Tiger and surrounding landscaping will be unveiled during the OcTiger Fest at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 23, as part of the Homecoming festivities.
By Amanda Like, Signal writer