The Debow and
In the university’s early history, public performances had been held in Brown Memorial and in the literary society halls in
In late 1985 planning was begun to renovate and expand Lehr auditorium into a modern 500 seat theater. Given the boundaries of the campus at the time, the concept made sense since the southern boundary of west campus stopped just behind
For many years, however, the university had been interested in purchasing additional property immediately to the south, and in 1989 120 acres were finally acquired. This, in turn, offered an improved site for a new performing arts facility. The preliminary plans had been made to renovate Lehr auditorium, were abandoned, and ground was broken for the new building on
Final plans for the performing arts center called for a 37,000-square-foot building with two main sections. The south part was designed as a classroom and office wing which could be operated separately from the balance of the center. This academic wing also contains the studio for WONB, the campus radio station. The facility was designated the Smith Educational Wing in memory of the university’s third president, Dr. Albert Edwin Smith, and his wife. Dr. Smith’s daughter, Mrs. Rachel Huff, BA 1912, left the university a bequest in 1984 in memory of her parents.
The performing arts section contains the 550-seat Biggs Theater/ Concert Hall which was named for Dr. Eleanor H. Biggs, a former trustee and generous contributor to the project. The 120-seat studio theater was named in honor of John and Rea Stambaugh, supporters of the university for many years. Support facilities, such as a scene shop, costume shop, and practice rooms, were also included.
Despite initial weather-related delays, construction proceeded on schedule during 1990 and 1991. On
Dr. Freed served as dean of
While Pres. Freed was at
As the 1990's drew to a close, rumors began to circulate about President Freed's possible retirement. These were confirmed during the summer of 1998 when he officially announced his decision to step down at the end of the next academic year. An extensive recruiting committee was organized to seek a replacement, and in summer 1999 Dr. Kendall Baker, President of the University of North Dakota at
Following past practice, President Freed was named president emeritus. He and Mrs. Freed continued to live in