Grise auditorium officially open after renovations

Emma Collins

The auditorium in Grise Hall was officially dedicated as the Rick and Ann Guillaume Auditorium after nearly a year of renovations during a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Saturday.

The ceremony took place in front of a crowd of about 100 people during the Gordon Ford College of Business’s Homecoming activities in Grise Hall. The Guillaumes, both 1965 graduates of the Gordon Ford College of Business, were joined by President Timothy Caboni and his wife, Kacy Caboni. Caboni took the opportunity to thank the Guillaumes for donating to “the best-applied college” of business in the state.

“The theme this weekend is ‘There’s no place like home,’” Caboni said. “Well, sometimes your home can use a little sprucing up.”

Caboni invited the Guillaumes to help cut the ribbon in front of the doors of the renovated auditorium. Before cutting the ribbon, Rick Guillaume said it was rare to be able to give back to a university that has meant so much to him.

“We’re just delighted to give back what we could,” Rick Guillaume said.

The total cost of the renovations was $280,000, with all but $80,000 being donated by the Guillaumes, according to Michelle Trawick, associate dean for faculty and administration. She said the business college covered the rest of the cost and the renovations have been positively received by faculty, staff and students.

“It just feels like we’ve moved up into the modern age in some respects,” Trawick said.

Trawick said plans to renovate the auditorium began after the Guillaumes decided to donate. She said she met with a representative for Bryan Russell, chief facilities officer, and explained what the business college wanted in the new auditorium. She said the representative then told the rest of the team working on the auditorium including students from the Architectural and Manufacturing Science Institute. She said these students used software to figure out the number of seats, the slope of the aisle and the space needed for wheelchairs.

Renovations to the auditorium began last winter, according to Stacey Gish, communication coordinator for the College of Business. She said the first phase of the renovations was completed before classes started in spring 2017. She said this first phase involved replacing different parts of the auditorium and painting the walls.

Gish said the winter renovations included leveling the stage at the front of the room to allow for more space for individuals in wheelchairs. She said the room was accessible for wheelchairs even with the stage, but removing the stage made the room more accessible for people with mobility problems. She said the open space also made it easier for students to participate in activities during class.

The wooden chairs were also replaced during the renovations. Gish said many of the wooden chairs were broken, and the back three to four rows of seats in the auditorium were without chairs because so many had broken and there were no replacement chairs left. She said this limited the number of people who could sit in the auditorium.

“Our capacity was actually decreasing when we were still in the wooden chair phase,” Gish said.

The new chairs are wider and have padded cushions. Gish said these news chairs allow students to be more comfortable and to spread out.

Gish said the tiled floors were also replaced with red and black carpet, making the sound better in the auditorium. The walls of the auditorium were also repainted, Gish said, and are now gray and red.

“It just livens things up,” Gish said.

The second phase of the renovations took place over the summer. Gish said this round of renovations replaced the outdated technology, which was dying and no longer fully functional.

“These poor students in the front of the room were getting bombarded with sound while the poor students in the back still couldn’t hear,” Gish said.

The auditorium now has a new computer and projector.

“We are pleased that it turned out so nicely,” Gish said. “We’re very happy with everything, especially technology.”

Associate professor of management Shane Spiller, who teaches classes in the auditorium, said he was shocked when he first saw the renovated auditorium. He said before the renovations, the auditorium was worn down with a failing sound system. Spiller said by the end of the spring semester, only one speaker was still working.

Spiller said the Gordon Ford College of Business has hosted several prominent speakers including Steve Forbes, the editor-in-chief of business magazine Forbes. Spiller said it was embarrassing to bring guests into the auditorium. He said since the renovations, the auditorium is now better suited for speakers and classes.

“It makes it seem like we’re not a high school that was built 50 years ago,” Spiller said.

Bowling Green junior and Gordon Ford Ambassador Lejla Nuhanovic said she had class in the auditorium in previous semesters and when she had class there the sound system did not work well.

“If you sat farther than the third or fourth row you couldn’t hear,” Nuhanovic said.

Morgantown junior Kelsey Hughson, also an ambassador, nodded her head in agreement as Nuhanovic spoke. Hughson said she appreciates the Guillaumes because the renovations will benefit current and future students.

“It’s amazing to me, really,” Hughson said.

Reporter Emma Collins can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].