Pictured above: Senator John Eklund and Hiram College President Dr. Lori Varlotta at the newly renovated Warren Sherman Hayden Memorial Auditorium at Bates Hall. Photo Courtesy of Kasey Samuel Adams, Hiram College

Hiram – As fall semester began, Hiram College celebrated enhancements to the Warren Sherman Hayden Memorial Auditorium at Bates Hall. Renovations to the 80-year-old venue included new seating for 511, including wheelchair-accessible seating, a new thrust stage and extensive roof repairs and new gutters on Bates Hall. Ohio Senator John Eklund, a key supporter of the project, attended the celebration.

“I had the most fortunate opportunity throughout this project to work with the people associated with Hiram College and Hiram Village – the administrators, the faculty, staff, alumni, the mayor of Hiram,” said Senator Eklund. “I’ve seen the positive relationship between the college and the community – not just the community in Hiram but the broader community in the state, and frankly, the decision to advocate on behalf of this project was an easy one.” He went on to explain the criteria used to select projects, including how broad an audience the project would serve, as well as the quality and caliber of the organizations responsible for the project’s completion.

“It’s a monument not to the Ohio General Assembly, or to the State of Ohio, or even Hiram College, but to all the people who make Ohio a great place to live and raise a family,” Eklund remarked, “and I’m proud to be associated with it.” Hiram College President Lori Varlotta, Ph.D., thanked Sen. Eklund for his support, noting that the renovations will serve the entire community well. “Rest assured, we know this will not just be a gem for Hiram College, but for Hiram Village and beyond,” Dr. Varlotta said.

Christine Kohls, Executive Director of Corporate, Foundation and Government Relations for Hiram College, said the funding and the renovations were possible in large part, thanks to the Senator, who promoted the local project among state legislators. “Senator Eklund was able to build a lot of support for the project,” Kohls said, “and he understood that a renovated Hayden Auditorium would offer a lot to not just the College, but to the greater community.” Kohls anticipates that the renovation will provide the College access to high profile speakers, performers and events, due to its proximity to Cleveland, Akron, Canton and Youngstown.

In 2014, Hiram College secured a competitive grant for $260,854 from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to renovate the Auditorium. The College matched 50 percent of these funds, and the Harley C. and Mary Hoover Price Foundation provided an additional $21,000 for the renovations. Last renovated in 1975, the recent renovations on the Hayden Auditorium began in spring of this year. Kent firm Metis Construction Services, LCC, completed the project. The Auditorium is used for theatrical and musical performances, speakers and formal College events. Although the celebration of the renovation was the third event in the newly opened space in as many days, the first high-profile event held in the space, a Cleveland Jazz Orchestra performance, was held there last weekend.