Previous Story Next Story Back to Index

Lions, a lantern and an ancient stone symbolize school’s vision

Brian Brooks, associate dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, says gifts from around the world reflect founder Walter Williams’ ambitions.

Multimedia and text by Youyou Zhou

On the northeast side of the Quad, two Chinese stone lions and a Japanese stone lantern guard the north entrance to MU. Together with the St. Paul’s Cathedral Stone on the other side of the arch, they have marked an international tradition at the Missouri School of Journalism starting in the early 20th century.

“For many years they were at the end of Neff Hall. That was before Gannett Hall was built. I remember seeing them for the first time when I was there as a student in the 1960s,” said Brian Brooks, associate dean of the Missouri School of Journalism.

Brooks came to the university from Tennessee in 1963. The stone lions were visible landmarks to him throughout his college life and later became part of his family history when he had photographs taken of himself and his grandchildren with the lions.

According to “The J-School: Celebrating One Hundred Years in Journalism and the Reynolds Journalism Institute Dedication,” the stone lions once guarded a Confucian temple in Nanjing, China, and were gifts to the school in 1931. Walter Williams, founder and dean of the school, accepted the lions as a symbol of the close relationship between the Missouri School of Journalism and the Chinese government. According to Brooks, the lions and other gifts at the school symbolize the importance of international relations to Williams.

When Williams first established the Missouri School of Journalism in 1908, he wanted it to be represented on the world stage. He helped build the first Chinese journalism school at St. John University in Shanghai in 1928. For many years afterward, he sent scholars from the Missouri School of Journalism to teach at Chinese universities. There were two Chinese students in the first class of the school in 1908.

The Japanese stone lantern also represents Williams’ global aspirations. Tsuneo Matsudaira, the Japanese ambassador to the United States, presented the stone lantern to the school in 1926 as a gift from the American-Japan Society of Tokyo. It consists of five pieces of granite quarried in the province of Mikawa, Japan.

Inside the Quad, in front of Neff Hall, stands the St. Paul’s Cathedral Stone from the British press in London.

“We share a tradition of free press,” Brooks said.

An international perspective is especially important for journalism students, Brooks said. The School of Journalism is a pioneer in international exchange programs for both the faculty and its students. The school has continued this tradition through the international programs office, which was established in 1994.

“Dean Mills once said he wanted the world’s first School of Journalism to become the first world School of Journalism,” Byron Scott, director of the international programs office, said in 2001.

As of 2008, three-quarters of the faculty have some involvement in international travels, and one-third of the students have studied abroad.

“We have to have an international presence. And those reminders that surround us all the time are very valuable to us,” Brooks said.