Did You Hear about the Morgans? University of La Verne to Rename Founders Auditorium after Current President and His Wife

February 16, 2010
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The new campus center is an example of the ongoing improvements occuring on the University of La Verne campus.

The new campus center is an example of the ongoing improvements occuring on the University of La Verne campus.

Nearly 86 years to the day after Founders Hall was first proposed, the auditorium situated inside it received a new name to accompany what will be a comprehensive facilities upgrade. During the University of La Verne Board of Trustees meeting on February 4, the board – by unanimous action – accepted the request by a group of donors to rename the historic campus venue as the Ann & Steve Morgan Auditorium in honor of University President Steve Morgan and his wife, Ann.




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.”


As Harris reported, by the day of the Board meeting $828,000 had been secured in gifts and pledges toward renovation of Founders Auditorium. Of that amount, $750,000 came from a select number of donors that designated gifts specifically to name the facility for the Morgans. Harris did not publicly release any donor names.


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 17th 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 projects for a number of existing campus facilities, and preparations for hundreds of events held both on and off campus as well as numerous university occasions hosted at the Morgan family home.


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.


On Feb. 2, 1924, then La Verne President Ellis Studebaker recommended the Board hold a campaign to fund construction of an administrative building. That campaign raised $154,000 and Founders Hall was completed and ready for occupancy in fall of 1926. The first assembly held in Founders Auditorium took place on Nov. 1, 1926, and both the building and auditorium were officially dedicated on Feb. 13, 1927.


The planned auditorium renovation will begin this spring with projected completion in December. As part of his report to the Board, Harris said fund raising efforts will continue into the fall of this year. He added that a special evening event is scheduled for April 21 featuring a lecture by Professor of Music Kathleen Lamkin. That event will also serve to open the public phase of the auditorium renovation campaign with the announcement of a highly anticipated seat-naming project.





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