New Auburn performing arts center to be named for retiring university president and first lady

Published: June 09, 2017
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The Auburn University Board of Trustees today approved naming the institution’s new performing arts center in honor of retiring president Jay Gogue and his wife, Susie.

The Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center fulfills the Gogues’ vision for a world-class performing arts center at Auburn University. Their passion for the arts inspired 1957 Auburn graduates John and Rosemary Brown to commit $25 million of their historic $57 million gift to Auburn toward creating the center.

"Rosemary and I saw the naming of the new performing arts center as an opportunity to honor Jay and Susie’s outstanding leadership and dedicated service to Auburn University," said John Brown. "We believe this facility will serve as a lasting legacy of their vision to enrich the cultural life of the university, the community and the region."

Gogue began his tenure as Auburn University’s 18th president in 2007 and will retire June 16. He earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in horticulture from Auburn before earning a doctorate in that field from Michigan State University.

His distinguished service includes advancing Auburn toward becoming one of the nation’s preeminent public institutions of higher education through expanding research priorities, growing infrastructure and facilities, establishing industry and community partnerships and advancing the student and faculty experience on campus. But, for many, his greatest legacy will be his advocacy for a university-affiliated performing arts center bringing Auburn on par with most major universities throughout the country.

"Jay and Susie believe strongly in the transformative power of the arts," said Jane DiFolco Parker, vice president for development and president of the Auburn University Foundation. "It is fitting that this new facility be named in recognition of their vision for a center that will establish the university as a culturally minded institution."

Located across from the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art on South College Street in Auburn, the center’s proximity to the museum creates a new arts district for the university, community and region. Programming in the new center will include a wide range of high-quality artistic opportunities–from nationally touring Broadway productions to opera, dance, orchestra and symphony performances, to student and faculty music and theater performances. The Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center will be completed by 2019, with programming beginning that year.

"The new performing arts center will elevate Auburn’s reputation by providing the artistic opportunities that Jay and Susie have envisioned for the university and community," said Charles McCrary, president pro tempore of the Auburn University Board of Trustees. "This facility represents our commitment to innovative learning and cultural expression."

The board presented Jay and Susie Gogue with a resolution honoring their service to Auburn University, as well as the resolution for the naming of the Performing Arts Center.

This marked the last board meeting for President Gogue and the first for Gov. Kay Ivey, who acknowledged him for his service to Auburn University.

In other matters:

Kelli Shomaker, vice president for business and finance and chief financial officer, explained to the board the guidelines for the 2018 fiscal budget. With an increase in tuition and fees approved by the board in April, Shomaker said the $21 million collected from that will cover $11 million in merit increases and benefits; $6 million for contingencies; $1.4 million for building maintenance, operations and insurance; $1.4 million for software license and maintenance agreements; $700,000 for the performing arts center; and $500,000 for the campus safety and security contract with the City of Auburn.

The final budget will be presented to the board for approval at its September meeting.

The board granted final approval to the following projects:

  • The campus utility system expansion electrical distribution improvements project, which is intended to improve the reliability and redundancy of the campus electrical distribution system, will relocate overhead transmission lines along South Donahue Drive and the electrical feeder along Woodfield Drive to the site of the future Performing Arts Center into underground duct banks and install a second transformer/switch at the Hemlock Drive substation. The estimated cost of $6.5 million will be financed from university general funds. Construction is expected to begin this summer and be completed by next summer.

  • The City of Auburn has requested an easement from the university in order to improve the intersection of South College Street and Woodfield Drive with the installation of new traffic signals, decorative poles and equipment. The project requires the use of approximately 0.01 acres of university property on the west side of South College.

Additionally, the board approved the following items:

  • Entering into a lease agreement with the City of Gulf Shores for the Auburn University Educational Complex. Under the 30-year lease, the city will construct the $11 million facility and Auburn will pay $619,000 a year.

  • Renaming 12 degree programs in the College of Agriculture to align the titles with current industry nomenclature and reflect a greater breadth of topics, practices and practical approaches necessary for work in the agricultural industries.

  • Placing the Master of Integrated Design and Construction degree program on inactive status. The program is jointly administered by the McWhorter School of Building Science and the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction. Approximately equal enrollment of students in building science and architecture is required, but increases in high-paying job opportunities for graduates of bachelor-level construction programs have diminished student demand for the construction track of this program. Inactive status suspends the degree program for up to five years, during which the college can evaluate its long-term feasibility.

  • Appointing PricewaterhouseCoopers to audit the university’s financial statements.

  • Electing Mike DeMaioribus as president pro tempore of the board for 2017-2018.

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.