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Hail to Trani! VCU Unveils His Bronze Image


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Do we detect a bit of Cold War revisionist history in the rendering of a new, (approximately) life-sized statue of Virginia Commonwealth University President Eugene P. Trani?

The graven image of the university's diminutive departing dictator … er, president, stands a commanding 5-foot-9. Officials dedicated it May 14 in the atrium of the university's Eugene P. and Lois E. Trani Center for Life Sciences at Cary and Cherry streets, without public fanfare and after students had packed up for home.

Though his legend is sure to grow as the giant of a man who took VCU from sleepy commuter school to sprawling state institution, while almost single-handedly rescuing Richmond's long-languishing Broad Street, it seems unlikely that even a double daily dose of Centrum Silver will inspire any future growth spurts for Trani.

Style Weekly was unable to confirm the retiring president's height. But through a university spokeswoman, Trani once assured Style that he's actually taller than Napoleon Bonaparte. In this new bronze-cast rendering he appears positively statuesque.

Ah, but history is written by the victors, yes? And there's historic precedent to shrinking or stretching our heroes. Biographers and historians still dispute Napoleon's height, which was between 5-foot-2, according to his doctor, and 5-foot-7, according to those who bicker over the difference between a French and an English inch.

Style was unable to determine how many statues of living university presidents are in existence across the country.

Sculpted by School of the Arts alumna Ruby L. Wescoat, the impeccably (other than that height thing) lifelike effigy is far more subdued than some statuary that's been added in recent decades to this city of monuments. Rather than preparing to power serve clambering children like Arthur Ashe at the west end of Monument Avenue, Trani is rendered as subdued and thoughtful as he considers his next global conquest.


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