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A new sculpture, "Infinite," stands at the front entrance of the Scientific Research Commons, the newest building on TWU's Denton campus. (Photo by Michael Modecki)

Scientific sculpture honors TWU alumna

A new sculpture on TWU’s Denton campus pays tribute to an alumna who dreamed big and lived her passion.

Betty Ruth Johnston majored in chemistry at Texas State College for Women (now Texas Woman’s University), graduating in 1947. She went on to serve for many years in the U.S. Army, conducting biological warfare assessments.

Johnston passed away in 2014, leaving a gift of $1.6 million to the TWU Alumni Association. A portion of that gift was used to create a sculpture in her honor. The sculpture, titled “Infinite,” was dedicated April 13 outside the front entrance to the Scientific Research Commons (SRC), the newest building on TWU’s Denton campus.

A video by TWU videographer Daniel Cantu tells the story behind the sculpture, from creation to installation.

In the video, TWU Alumni Association president Barbara Rogers talks about Johnston and says the SRC — home to chemistry and biochemistry, biology, nutrition and food science and psychology programs — is the ideal setting to remember Johnston.

The alumni association’s board of directors collaborated with TWU’s chemistry and biochemistry department to create the memorial. In the video, department professor and chair Richard Sheardy says they wanted to have something everyone could enjoy and decided on a scientific sculpture outside the building.

They invited Roger Berry, a prominent northern California sculptor, to the Denton campus to learn about the culture at TWU. After he returned home, he said, a friend asked him why Texas Woman’s University was a good thing.

“I thought about that, and I said, ‘It offers infinite possibilities to the students,’” Berry said. “The idea of infinity became the source of one of the proposals for my sculptures.”

In fact, it was the sculpture that was built. The 20-foot sculpture was transported from Sacramento to Denton on a flatbed truck, then lifted by crane onto a concrete base.

The video also shows footage from the April 13 dedication ceremony, during which Rogers noted that, wherever TWU alumni go, they are “a reflection of what they learned here, how they were nurtured here, and the success they experienced here. And we never forget our TWU roots.”