Comments: This sculpture was commissioned by the Honors Program at Virginia Tech. The program’s current director, Dr. Terry Papillon, contacted me in the spring of 2008, as Dr. Papillon and his staff explored a suitable tribute to Dr. Jack Dudley, who in September of 2008 retired as Associate Provost and first director of the Honors Program. “Jack,” as he prefers to be called, has been a figure widely known on campus. Gregarious, witty, and devoted, Jack effectively used both his given authority and uncommon personal finesse to draw top-flight students to Virginia Tech, through the Honors Program. In preparation for the portrait sculpture, I asked Dr. Papillon and his staff to share reminiscences of Dr. Dudley with me, and there followed a good hour of delightful anecdotes, punctuated by moments of spontaneous laughter.
For example, Dr. Papillon told the story of a young student who desired to major in both music and engineering. When she approached other schools with a request to accommodate her desire, she encountered equivocation, and the enumeration of difficulties; when she approached Virginia Tech, and talked to Jack, he responded simply, “why the hell not?” This phrase, Dr. Papillon told me proudly, had become the “unofficial slogan” of the Virginia Tech Honors Program.