New Cultural and Community Center

Creative fundraising on the Indiana University Southeast campus has led to the near-realization of a cherished dream, the construction of the $10.5 million Paul W. Ogle Cultural and Community Center. This facility will house a 500-seat auditorium/concert hall, a 350-seat theatre, a 100-seat recital hall, an art gallery, classrooms, faculty offices, practice studios, and a scenery shop. The project would not have been possible without a $2 million challenge gift from a southern Indiana charitable foundation and the contributions of more than $2.7 million by alumni, students, friends of the university, and faculty and staff members in response to that challenge.

The need for a campaign to generate these funds became obvious about four years ago, when bids for the long-awaited addition to the New Albany campus arrived, and the price tag exceeded the amount appropriated by the state legislature by more than $3 million. During IU Southeast's fiftieth-anniversary fund drive, the Paul W. Ogle Foundation's board of directors offered up the $2 million challenge gift, asking that another $1 million be donated from other sources.

IU Southeast responded to the Ogle Foundation's offer with some innovative strategies. For example, the campus launched its "Stitch in Time" campaign, in which donors of $300 or more can have their names embroidered into the upholstery of the theatre seats in the cultural center. IU Southeast was also the first of the smaller campuses to use the IU Telefund equipment on the Bloomington campus, conducting a 1992 phone-a-thon that elicited pledges totaling $131,000 from alumni in thirty-one states.

Designed by the Columbus architects Frank M. Adams Jr. & Associates, the center will be attached to and share a lobby with the campus's second-newest structure, Knobview Hall, a classroom building also designed by Adams, who formerly lived in New Albany.

IU Southeast Chancellor Leon Rand eagerly awaits the center's completion, which is scheduled for late 1995. "We offer programs in music and the arts, and the state-of- the-art center will provide much better facilities than we now have," Rand says, "as well as additional space, which we sorely need."

Rand foresees that the center's high-tech features will make it a welcome addition to the meeting places in the Louisville area. The multiple-language simultaneous translation equipment in the auditorium is just one feature that is likely to attract international conferences to the center, Rand says.

The namesake of the Paul W. Ogle Cultural and Community Center was a native of Vevay, Indiana, in Switzerland County. A veteran of World War II, Ogle founded the Silgas Company, a distributor of propane gas, in southern Indiana, and the business expanded to surrounding states. He instituted the Paul W. Ogle Foundation in 1979; the foundation now has assets of more than $50 million. Ogle died in 1989.

Rand envisions the flurry of artistic and creative activity that will soon fill the Ogle Center. He is also imagining the next project, an amphitheatre adjacent to the Knobview Hall-Ogle Center complex. "The greater Louisville area provides many cultural activities," Rand says. "These additions will enhance what is already here."

--Karen Grooms