Published: Sept. 17, 2004

Sculpture honoring former MSU President Hannah unveiled

Contact: Jeff Kacos, Campus Park and Planning, (517) 355-9582,; Marti Heil, University Development, (517) 355-8257,; or Tom Oswald, University Relations,(517) 355-2281,


 Statue of John A. Hannah
Thomas Hannah (left) and MSU President Peter McPherson (right), unveil the new bronze sculpture honoring MSU’s 12th president, John A. Hannah. Photo by Kurt Stepnitz, University Relations. 
MSU President Peter McPherson's speech.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – A new 7-foot statue of John A. Hannah, the former Michigan State University president who guided the university through one of the most dynamic times in the school’s history, now oversees a newly built plaza located in front of the MSU administration building that bears his name.

The sculpture, dedicated in a ceremony today that included Hannah’s son, Thomas, is made of bronze and weighs more than 700 pounds. Standing on a granite base, the statue captures Hannah walking briskly in mid-stride, reflecting his non-stop activity on behalf of his university.

Statue of John A. Hannah
“John Hannah dramatically raised the reputation and profile of our university,” said current MSU President Peter McPherson. “But, just as importantly, he raised our expectations and aspirations.”

Hannah was MSU’s 12th president, serving from 1941 to 1969, a period of unprecedented growth for the university, a time that saw MSU become one of the largest and most respected universities in the world.

It was under his leadership that the university’s student population rose from 6,000 to nearly 40,000. It was also during that time that what was then Michigan State College became Michigan State University.

Hannah’s association with the university spanned seven decades – from the 1920s when he was with the Cooperative Extension Service to the 1980s when he served as president emeritus.

The sculpture, which was funded entirely by private dollars, was created by Bruce Wolfe, a renowned California artist who is known for his ability to capture the unique and often subtle qualities of his subjects.

The dedication of the statue is the first of many events commemorating MSU’s 150th anniversary.

The sculpture is also the first project of the “Public Art on Campus Initiative” of the Public Art on Campus Committee. The MSU Board of Trustees and McPherson unanimously endorsed Hannah as the subject for the sculpture.