Lucile, the world’s largest bronze sculpture of a Golden Tiger, officially took residence on the Brenau University campus in Gainesville, Ga., at a dedication ceremony on Oct. 4, 2013. The artwork has since become a veritable landmark in the northeast Georgia city and an iconic gateway to the 135-year-old university.
Donated by North Carolina philanthropist Irwin “Ike” Belk, who has commissioned similar pieces for colleges and universities around the United States and for the U.S. Olympics organization, the one-ton bronze sculpture represents the Brenau mascot and pays homage to its history. Georgia-based artist Gregory Johnson, who has produced about 20 of the monumental pieces for Belk, supervised the production of the piece at a Montana foundry and its installation on the Brenau campus in March 2013.
Brenau picked the name Lucile from submissions by students, alumni, faculty and friends of the university, which was founded in 1878 as women’s undergraduate institution. The name honors Lucile Townsend Pearce, Brenau’s first female chief executive. She assumed the role following the 1943 death of her husband, H.J. Pearce, who gave the college its unique name in 1900 and established its credo for the development of strong, independent, thoughtful, well-prepared female leaders in society – guiding philosophy and principles that Lucile Pearce as his life partner helped to shape.
Brenau became a full university in the early 1990s and now operates coeducational undergraduate and graduate programs on several campuses and online. However, the undergraduate Women’s College in Gainesville remains its core.