New Tiger sculpture is named Bruce after late trustee Bruce Heilman

New Tiger sculpture is named Bruce after late trustee Bruce Heilman
“Bruce” the tiger was unveiled following Tuesday’s trustee meeting on the campus of Campbellsville University. The tiger was donated by Dr. H. Keith Spears, executive vice president and assistant to the president, on behalf of himself and his wife, Rita, and their family. Bruce was named after Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, who died Oct. 19. Dr. Heilman was a CU alumnus and Board of Trustees member. Dedicating Bruce the tiger, from left are: Dr. Michael V. Carter, Dr. H. Keith Spears, Rita Spears, Andrew Coy, vice president of Student Government Association (SGA); Sara Basham, director of finance for SGA; and Rebekah Mobley, president of SGA. (CU Photo by Alexandria Swanger)

By Joan C. McKinney, director, Office of University Communications

There’s a new Tiger in town, and his name is Bruce.

The tiger sits on the southwest side of the E. Bruce Heilman Student Center as you go into the Winters Dining Hall.

Bruce was donated by the Dr. H. Keith Spears family and is dedicated to the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Spears family.

“Every university needs its mascot where the students can see and appreciate its presence,” Spears said. “We wanted the tiger to be within the student center complex, walking right alongside the students.”

The new bronze tiger was unveiled Oct. 22 at a meeting of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees. Dr. Anna Mary Byrdwell, a trustee, suggested the name Bruce, and it was unanimously accepted that he be named in honor of Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, a trustee for over 25 years and a 1949 alumnus, who died Oct. 19.

Spears said the replica sculpture was created by Antoine-Louis Barye, a mid-1800s Romantic French sculptor famous for his artistic works of animals for the Museum of Natural History in Paris.

“We are pleased to have this life-size Tiger sculptured by an historic figure in the world of art. This is very significant for Campbellsville University,” Spears said.

Dr. Michael V. Carter, president, compared the bronze figure to the character of the university.

“It’s a place where the spirit of the tiger is being on the prowl, not being afraid, moving forward, it’s what we are about.

“I want to thank Rita and Keith Spears and may we be on the prowl for the future for life change, and we do it in Christ’s name.”

Spears, who serves as senior vice president and assistant to the president at Campbellsville University, said the tiger is a replica from the original, located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

“Our family has become part of this great institution,” Spears said, “and we want a lasting symbol that reflects our pride in Campbellsville University. There could be no better icon than the CU tiger, sculptured in bronze to prevail no matter the climate forces that might come against it.”

He said, “On behalf of the Spears’ family, we are very, very pleased to have this legacy for our family.”
Rebekah Mobley, a senior from Elizabethtown, Ky., and president of the Student Government Association, helped unveil the tiger and said she started out as a tour guide on campus, and students took pictures of the former piece of art that was located on the same spot.

She said she is glad it has been replaced with a bronze statue as the new focal point. “It will impact students forever, as the impact Dr. Heilman has had on the university.’

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 14,000 students offering over 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The university has Kentucky based off-campus centers in Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset, Hodgenville and Liberty with instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Summersville. Out-of-state centers include two in California at Los Angeles and Lathrop, located in the San Francisco Bay region.  The website for complete information is

Campbellsville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award certificates, associate, baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the status of Campbellsville University.