Ford Auditorium to receive updates next year

Kelsee Brady, Campus Carrier Staff Writer

In late 2017, Tom Kennedy, Dean of the Evans School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, announced that the planned Ford Auditorium renovation would not begin until all funds were raised. Nearly a year later, the project has 57 percent of its $5.3 million budget from a total of 315 donors. President Stephen R. Briggs said that construction may begin as early as May 2019.

The Ford Auditorium renovations are part of what Briggs referred to as a “life cycle update”. It will include plans to maximize both seating and the size of the stage. 366 seats will be arched around the stage and the balcony will be upgraded, providing a better view of the stage.

Stefanie Cash, Director of music education, also noted that the new ceiling, which will be entirely made of wood, will create an improved acoustical space to rehearse and perform in. She is most excited about the opportunity the renovated venue will provide for student performances, master classes, and recitals.

The Ford auditorium is a part of the complex that was built and named by Henry and Clara Ford in 1928. Scott Breithaupt, associate vice president for advancement, is in charge of the Ford renovation details and fundraising. He stated that outside experts have been involved in the architectural aspects of making the Ford Auditorium a first class recital hall. However the Ford Auditorium will still keep many of its key features and the exterior of the building will not be altered. The interior renovation plans to keep the skeleton of the structure.

This summer, a fundraiser took place honoring the 90th birthday of Ouida Word Dickey, a cherished Berry College alumna and donor. The monetary goal for the event was to raise $500,000. Every dollar contributed was immediately doubled by a matching donation of $250,000. The total amount raised from the Dickey birthday challenge was $580,000 total from 210 donors. An interesting feature of the Ford Auditorium will be the Donor Wall that will display the names of all donors who contributed $5,000 and up. Breithaupt encouraged any students, family or faculty to contribute to the cause because as he said every dollar helps.

Due to the success of the donation in honor of Ouida Word Dickey, the Ford living room in the Alumni Center will be named the Dickey Living Room on Oct. 7 at 3 p.m.

Follow the renovation process with updates from Viking Fusion.

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