Will Rogers Monument Re-Dedication June 15

A monument to a piece of Arkansas Tech University history will be re-dedicated during a ceremony on Wednesday, June 15.

The refurbished Will Rogers monument in front of John E. Tucker Coliseum will be unveiled during a 10 a.m. ceremony. The public is invited to attend.

Rogers (photographed), who started as a cowboy performer in western shows, rose to fame as a newspaper columnist and star on the vaudeville stage, on radio and in the movies.

The monument at Arkansas Tech consists of three plaques that were placed in memory of Rogers and to commemorate an on-campus appearance that he made in 1931.

An account of Rogers’ visit to Arkansas Tech in the Agricola yearbook notes that “on the morning of the performance people came from all of the surrounding towns, and the biggest crowd that has ever been on the Tech campus crowded into the armory and around the doors.”

The show was part of a tour of the southern United States that Rogers undertook in an effort to bring relief to regions struggling through what we now know as the Great Depression of the 1930s.

His performance in Russellville raised $2,000, which was used to provide payment for laborers to construct a municipal airport.

“Many of the unemployed of Russellville were greatly helped through the depression by the work afforded to them by this $2,000,” reads the passage in the 1931 Agricola.

The airport was built on the same parcel of land where Tucker Coliseum now sits, and so the monument to Rogers stands on the front lawn of the facility.

Scheduled speakers for the June 15 re-dedication event include Tad Jones, director of the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, Okla.; Dr. Jeff Woods, professor of history and dean of the Arkansas Tech College of Arts and Humanities; and Dr. Tom DeBlack, professor of history in the Arkansas Tech Department of History and Political Science.