New Statue to Be Dedicated at WT’s Cornette Library in Honor of Namesakes

CANYON, Texas — An eternally creative poet now sits vigil in front of West Texas A&M University’s Cornette Library, a tribute to the couple for whom the building is named. 

A statue of poet Robert Frost, depicted penning “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” recently was installed in the east courtyard of the library near the heart of the Canyon campus.  

The statue officially will be dedicated in honor of former WT President James P. and Mary Elizabeth Cornette during a Texas Poets’ Corner event at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 20. 

“Robert Frost was a favorite poet of President Cornette, who in fact was a Frost scholar,” said Shawna Kennedy-Witthar, Cornette Library director. “We plan to add more sculptures in this courtyard, and having one dedicated to our library’s namesakes seemed like the natural place to start.” 

Dr. James L. Cornette, a 1955 WT graduate and professor emeritus of mathematics at Iowa State University, will attend the ceremony in honor of his late parents. 

Cornette Library opened its doors in 1974. 

The Frost sculpture is the work of George W. Lundeen of Loveland, Colorado, whose works—including several other statues of Frost—adorn university campuses and more nationwide. 

“The Texas Poets’ Corner was established due to the generosity of former WT English Professor and Texas Poet Laureate Dr. Jenny Lind Porter,” said Dr. Mary Liz Brooks, WT’s Jenny Lind Porter Professor of Communication. “The addition of the Robert Frost statue to the Cornette Library brings additional recognition to the art of poetry that was a passion of both Dr. Porter and Dr. Cornette.” 

The dedication will begin at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 20 in the courtyard, followed at 6 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres in the Texas Poets’ Corner on the library’s second floor. 

The event is free and open to the public. 

The Texas Poets’ Corner, which was established in 2003 in WT’s Cornette Library, was bequeathed a $2.8 million estate gift by the late Dr. Jenny Lind Porter Scott, a former Texas Poet Laureate and WT assistant professor of English. 

President Cornette, the University’s third president, led WT at a transformative time. During his tenure, which spanned from 1948 to 1973, WT saw explosive growth and significant changes in curriculum and administration, and as enrollment soared, so too did campus construction, with the addition of several major buildings in the 1950s and 1960s, including the library. 

Cornette Library and the Texas Poets’ Corner help fulfill WT’s desire to provide access to intellectual resources, insight and wisdom, as set out in the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World. 

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $110 million.