Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: March 7, 2006
OU President David Boren discusses the legacy of the
university's first President David Ross Boyd
while Charles Ford and Senator Cal Hobson listen.
Artist Mike Wimmer talks about his work.
Artist Mike Wimmer, OU President David Boren, Charles
Ford and Senator Cal Hobson
Portrait of First OU President Dedicated at Capitol
An original painting depicting the first president
of the University of Oklahoma was unveiled in the Oklahoma
State Senate today. Painted by Norman artist Mike Wimmer
and sponsored by OU President David Boren, his wife,
Molly Shi Boren, and Senator Cal Hobson, the original
artwork portrays David Ross Boyd planting one of the
first trees on the university campus.
Boyd was born on a farm in Ohio in 1853 and later received
a degree in education. He was superintendent of schools
in Arkansas City, Kansas, and made many improvements
to the town and school buildings by utilizing the labor
of boomers who were camping in the area awaiting the
After becoming acquainted with the new State Regents,
Boyd was selected as the first president of the university.
He reached Norman on August 6, 1892. It is said that
when Boyd stepped off the train and saw the barren expanse
of prairie without a single university building or tree,
his only remark about the future location of the university
was “What possibilities!”
The painting is a project of the Oklahoma State Senate
Historical Preservation Fund, Inc.
“When I founded this fund, I wanted to depict
events and people that have helped shape our state’s
history, but are not readily known by the public,”
said Charles Ford, President of the Fund and former
Senator. “Boyd was a man whose courage and vision
helped create, out of essentially a barren prairie,
what has become one of the nation’s premier learning
Construction of the first university building was completed
in August 1893. President Boyd, in an effort to beautify
the campus and surrounding area, began planting trees
on the University grounds and along University Boulevard.
Using his own funds, Boyd purchased the stock of a bankrupt
nursery southwest of the University building. He gave
those trees to Norman residents who were willing to
plant and care for them under a contract that they must
pay for each tree that died, while those that lived
Boyd served as President of the University of Oklahoma
from September 1892 to July 1908.
“David Ross Boyd was not afraid to dream and believed
that the future could be better than the present. That
is not only the spirit of the University of Oklahoma
but also of the state and our country. We are particularly
proud to have that spirit represented in the Capitol's
permanent art collection,” said Boren.
As the 13th President of the University, Boren has devoted
much of his life to public service to Oklahoma as a
legislator, Governor and U.S. Senator. As first Lady
of the University, Mrs. Boren has been an active leader,
touching many areas of campus life and has worked to
improve campus landscaping and restore campus buildings.
The Senate sponsor of the artwork is OU alumnus and
current state Senator Cal Hobson.
“It is an honor to sponsor this work of a man
who set higher education on its course in Oklahoma,”
The artist Mike Wimmer is also an alumnus of the university.
“I am very pleased to be able to create a painting
about my alma mater,” said Wimmer. “I believe
President Boyd’s story should be told and re-told
in Norman so everyone can appreciate his early efforts
to turn the University into the beautiful place it is
The portrait of Boyd, along with other works of art
commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical
Preservation Fund, Inc., can be found on the Internet
more information contact:
Senator Communication's Office - (405) 521-5698