Creative journey and a keen eye for art
Dr. Steven's husband, Alexander B. Hamilton, with his wisdom and keen eye for art, this couple was sparked by the quote, "The best way to predict the future is to create it," by Peter Drucker. The couple started thinking about establishing a tangible reminder pointing to the future. "It had to be Florence Nightingale. There is no larger image in modern health care and nursing than Florence Nightingale," Dr. Stevens said.
The couple started brainstorming in 2019. "I've been coming to this campus for over 30 years. To me, the School of Nursing building needs more character," Hamilton said. "We came up with the idea to make these buildings distinct by featuring a bronze statue that would be special for the nursing school and the university and give it a unique identity."
Dr. Stevens said their discussions focused on 2020, the Year of Nurse, an international celebration based on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, who is famous for her work during the Crimean War in the 1850s. (Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Year of the Nurse encompassed 2020 and 2021.)
"When Alex and I started thinking about a statue, we decided to find out more about Florence Nightingale," Dr. Stevens said. "She is heralded as the founder of modern nursing but is much more than that. Today's interprofessional health care system and hospital design continue to be influenced by Nightingale's research on nursing and health care in the mid-1800s. Her legacy goes far beyond nursing and still resonates across all health professions today."
"Once we decided to propose a statue of Florence Nightingale, we knew we wanted to get an old West artist who had an eye for anatomy and facial structure," he said. "We met an artist who had a booth at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo and bought a small bronze statue of a steer head that he had done. We took it home and looked at the bone structure, nostrils and eyes and decided to ask him if he would be interested in our project. We knew we had the right artist when he said he would 'give it a shot."
The artist, Rick McCumber, and his wife, Cindy, of Huntsville, Texas, came to San Antonio for an early meeting with the couple and Dean Eileen T. Breslin, PhD, RN, FAAN. Dr. Breslin, a long-standing admirer of Nightingale, whole-heartedly approved the idea of the bronze statue for the School of Nursing.
"We decided we wanted a nine-foot statue which is 150 percent of her height. Nightingale was 5'7" tall," Hamilton explained. "We told Rick that we wanted her to stand in front of the School of Nursing building with the proper candle lantern in her right hand and her left hand beckoning students to enter their future through the School of Nursing."