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Auditorium receives new life, new name

Once downtrodden and decrepit, the auditorium in Founders Hall that opened in 1926 has new bones, a new sparkle and a new name.

The Ann & Steve Morgan Auditorium has undergone a complete renovation, both structural and cosmetic, and may now serve as the proud venue for performing arts at the University of La Verne.

The auditorium is still cozy, with only 379 seats, but there’s not a bad one in the house. Even the back row of the balcony provides perfect sight lines to the stage. With brand-new seats and a new climate control system, patrons will enjoy a plush new level of comfort.

There’s new acoustics, new lighting and a new intimacy between performers and the audience now that the stage has been extended nearly 10 feet toward the first row.

All of this has been done in less than a year since the February 4, 2010 Board of Trustees meeting that got the ball rolling. It was then that the Board voted unanimously to accept the request by a group of donors to rename the historic campus venue after the Morgans, who have been the university’s first couple for 25 years. President Steve Morgan is retiring, effective June 30.

Longtime La Verne Trustee and current chair of the Board’s Development Committee Benjamin Harris spoke for the group of donors when he told the Board “our objective is to make this beautifully restored historical setting an enduring tribute to the remarkable leadership, foresight, dedication and enthusiasm that Steve and Ann have contributed to La Verne.” He later added that the Morgans “personify the best of this university. We are proud to be associated with them, and it is with the utmost joy and respect that we name this campus landmark in their honor.”

Steve Morgan, who earned his bachelor’s degree in 1968 to become a third generation La Verne graduate, was unanimously approved by the Board to be the university’s 17 th president in February 1985. Since then he has guided the university through fiscal challenges and development as well as a transformational period of growth and change, all while diligently seeking to maintain the values upon which the institution was founded in 1891. During his tenure he has watched the university’s undergraduate population more than double and overall enrollment – including the regional campuses and adult learning programs – surpass 8,000 students. And he has overseen numerous expansion and enhancement projects, the most recent being the grand opening of the 40,000-square-foot Campus Center last September.

Ann Morgan, who earned a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees from La Verne, was the inaugural chair of the university’s Facilities & Beautification Committee and served in that role for five years, helping establish priorities and supervise projects to enhance campus appearance and care. Additionally, she was involved in the Wilson Library/Landis Academic Center project in the early 1990s — at that time the largest capital project in the school’s history, the planning of the Oaks Residence Hall community, refurbishment of existing campus facilities, and preparations for hundreds of events held both on and off campus as well as numerous university events at the Morgan family home.

How to Order A Donor Name Recognition Plate

Founders Auditorium is located within Founders Hall, the third-oldest building on the La Verne campus and the second-oldest facility built specifically for the institution’s use. Hanawalt House, constructed by the school’s fifth president, W.C. Hanawalt, was completed in 1908. Miller Hall, named for ninth president Samuel J. Miller, first opened in 1918.