Tarleton unveils Rudder statue

Family, friends, community members, students, faculty and staff gathered for a beautiful ceremony at Tarleton State University to honor Major General James Earl Rudder with a bronze statue unveiling and walkway, street dedication. 

Rudder was a student at Tarleton from 1927-1930 followed by teaching and coaching football in 1938 before entering active military duty in 1941. He led a group of Army Rangers advancing onto the beaches of Normandy on D-Day returning to Texas as a war hero.

Rudder was appointed the Commissioner of the State General Land Office by Governor Allan Shivers before coming back to Tarleton.

“Rudder became the university’s vice president in 1958, ascending to the presidency a year later and chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, including Tarleton, in 1965,” states Rudder’s bio. “During his tenure, Texas A&M became co-ed and integrated. He set the direction for it to become a major research university.”

Speaking at the ceremony were Tarleton President Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio; Dr. Kyle McGregor, vice president for institutional advencement; Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp; Board of Regents Chairman Charles W. Schwartz; Col. Felix Perez of the 75th Ranger Regiment; and statue donor Regent Anthony G. Buzbee.

Artist Mike Tabor was recognized for creating the Rudder bronze statue.

“Today we have an opportunity to recognize a Tarleton man, and Aggie leader and an American war hero,” Dottavio said at the ceremony. “General Rudder has been memorialized across this country and in fact, across the world with monuments and statues and buildings and even ships are named after him. As a Tarleton man, Earl Rudder was a student leader, football coach and our athletic director.”

Dottavio said in the next few weeks plaques will be inserted into the walkway where Rudder’s statue stands highlighting Tarleton’s Core Values.

“Each of those panels is going to have a quote from General Rudder that describes the Rudder way of doing things so that both his life and words inspire every student, faculty, staff and visitor that walks this way,” Dottavio said. 

By Autumn Owens / aowens@empiretribune.com