On Monday afternoon, UW-Eau Claire chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich delivered an opening speech and welcomed a crowd of nearly 100, toasting with a glass of sparkling cider.
“A year ago, the seats you’re sitting in were sagging, faded red velvet, the lighting was from World War II and the walls were a depressing institutional gray,” Levin-Stankevich said. “Today … this historic part of the campus has been restored to full glory, and is ready to help us welcome in the 21st century.”
Levin-Stankevich concluded his speech and cut the ribbon onstage to officially rededicate the Schofield Auditorium.
Casey Sylla, president of the Eau Claire Foundation, detailed the inspiration for the yearlong renovations, speaking fondly of his memories within the auditorium.
“The genesis for this came from the discussions we have with student leadership,” Sylla said. “Each of our board meetings, we tend to talk to students and we asked them, ‘what on campus might be something useful that the Foundation could support?’…and seeing the condition it was in resonated with me and my fellow board members.”
Sylla said that his own graduation took place within Schofield Auditorium in January 1966 and that he felt pride in the improvements made.
Student Body President Phil Rynish said he and his fellow members saw the construction as a necessity for the campus.
“When I sat down with the board and Casey, along with (former Student Senate President) Dylan Jambrek last year, we immediately saw the value in renovating this space,” Rynish said.
Rynish said the renovations were important because Schofield is used during freshman orientation and can help build early opinions of Eau Claire.
Sophomore Lindsey Folsom attended the ceremony to get a glimpse of the new surroundings and said she was impressed by the updates.
“It’s a good performance stage, but it’s also very professional,” Folsom said. “I really like the screen.”
JoAnne Brandes, an Eau Claire Foundation board member and alumnus, said the Foundation was very pleased with the changes made.
“The work of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation has become more and more important to the success of this university,” Brandes said. “I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Immediately after the ribbon cutting, the stage curtains opened to reveal a large display of computer-generated fireworks on the back wall of the stage. The sound of the school’s fight song, along with the energetic clapping of the audience, filled the auditorium.
Fifth Element and Audacious, two a cappella groups on campus, performed multiple songs with a new graphic background to show the ability of the auditorium’s new equipment.
Chris Jorgenson, the LGBTQ Program Coordinator of the Women’s and LGBTQ Resource Center performed as well, singing a solo of “Hallelujah” to open the musical of the ceremony.
“I think it shows that the university is making conscious efforts to move forward with an understanding of the effects change and growth have on the university and the community that lives and works in this university,” he said. “If I’m here for the next year still coordinating events, I will definitely make a point to use that space.”