Gift to support main performance hall in Auburn University’s new performing arts center

Published: June 29, 2017
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A $5 million commitment from Walter S. "Walt" and Virginia E. "Ginger" Woltosz will support the construction of the new Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center at Auburn University. The gift, designated for the facility's main performance hall, will ensure that the center can accommodate a wide range of high-quality artistic opportunities including nationally touring Broadway productions, opera, dance and symphony and student and faculty music and theater performances.

"The new performing arts center will be a fantastic venue for a variety of performing arts," said Walt Woltosz, a two-time Auburn University alumnus. "With a son who is a film producer and screenwriter, a granddaughter who is a highly accomplished dancer, and our own work in co-writing and producing several works, Ginger and I have a strong personal interest in the performing arts and in providing substantial support for the center."

The 1,200-seat performance hall will contain a balcony with opera boxes on both levels, adjustable acoustics and lighting and an adjustable orchestra pit, proscenium and symphony shell. In addition, the new facility will include a grand lobby, a box office and a porch and lawn that will serve as an additional outdoor performance venue. Located across from the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art on South College Street in Auburn, the center's proximity to the museum will create a new arts district for the university, community and region.

"We are extremely grateful to Walt and Ginger for their very generous, significant ongoing philanthropic investment in Auburn University," said Jane DiFolco Parker, vice president for development and president of the Auburn University Foundation. "This recent gift for the Gogue Center will play a critical role in ensuring that Auburn University attracts world-class performances that highlight the transformative power of the arts."

Walt Woltosz earned bachelor's and master's degrees in aerospace engineering from Auburn in 1969 and 1977, respectively, and holds a master's in administrative science from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Early in his career in the aerospace industry, he managed the development of innovative simulation and modeling software for key space and military systems. Ginger holds a bachelor's degree in business from San Jose State University and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.

In 1980, when Ginger's mother became ill, Walt turned his attention to developing augmentative communication systems for persons with severe disabilities. In 1981, he and Ginger founded Words+ Inc., a leader in creating state-of-the-art products that provide the highest quality communication and computer access tools available. In 1996, Walt and Ginger founded Simulations Plus, a leading developer of simulation and modeling software for drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

Construction of the performing arts center will be completed in 2019, with programming beginning that year.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 29,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.