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March 6, 2009
Ron Houston, a Maryville resident and president of J.L. Houston Co. in Hopkins, has given Northwest Missouri State University a $1.3 million gift, and today the University's Board of Regents agreed to recognize his gift by naming the institution's performing arts complex in his honor.
The Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts, as the facility will now be known, includes the Mary Linn Auditorium, constructed in 1984, and the Studio Theatre, a 5,500-square-foot facility completed in 2008.
Houston, who was involved in high school theatre productions as well as several performances by the Nodaway Community Theatre Company, said he has always had an interest in theatre. After he graduated from North Nodaway High School in Hopkins, he attended Northwest for three years before transferring to the University of Missouri-Columbia to receive a degree in industrial engineering.
"When I was a student at Northwest, I used to go the little theatre in the Administration Building, but after it was destroyed by the fire in 1979, the University was never able to construct a similar type of facility," he said. "From talking with the faculty in Northwest's theatre department, it became apparent there was a need for a Studio Theatre. I really think the theatre, which is top notch, will allow the University to increase its student recruiting opportunities."
The Studio Theatre functions as a laboratory for the dramatic arts and contains state-of-the-art technology, including an articulated lighting grid, a makeup lab/classroom and a new lighting and sound control system. The Studio Theatre seats up to 250 people, depending upon the seating arrangement, which is moveable, and provides a more intimate environment for student and departmental performances.
It was Houston's multi-year gift that, when coupled with University and Northwest Foundation funds, not only allowed for the construction of the Studio Theatre but also several other capital projects throughout campus, including Bearcat Stadium.
"Without Ron's gift, the Northwest Foundation would not have received the bonds to construct Bearcat Stadium, which was completed in 2003. Ron's gift provided the necessary capital to facilitate the acquisition of bond financing," said Orrie Covert, Northwest's vice president for university advancement and executive director of the Northwest Foundation. "In 2007, the Foundation was able to release those funds to fulfill Ron's wishes that his gift eventually be used for the construction of the Studio Theatre."
In addition to being the lead donor for the Studio Theatre, Houston has been a longtime Northwest supporter. His contributions through the Northwest Foundation have funded the Ronald A. Houston Scholarship for students graduating from North Nodaway and attending Northwest as well as a new sound system and projector in the Mary Linn Auditorium. He was also a member of the Northwest Foundation Board of Directors for six years, where he was co-chair of the finance committee.
Houston also serves on the Maryville Industrial Development Corporation Board of Directors and the Steel Tank Institute Board of Directors, where he serves as treasurer.
J.L. Houston Co., founded in 1954 by Houston's father, has approximately 50 employees and manufactures carbon steel and stainless steel tanks for storing petroleum products, solutions and chemicals and is a supplier of plumbing, pumping, gauging, metering, safety and overfill prevention valves and alarms.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts will be at 7 p.m. Friday, March 13, prior to the 7:30 p.m. student performance of "Celebration" in the Studio Theatre. The ceremony is open to the public.
For more information, contact Teresa Macias, a development officer for the Northwest Foundation, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 660.562.1248.
Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468