“OK, I just have to say this,” she said as she leaned toward the microphone and raised her hands, “Welcome to my theater!!!”
Her excitement was understandable—she had waited more than 1,100 days for this moment: standing on the stage of the proscenium theater that bears her name—looking out at an actual in-person audience in the seats.
No one had even heard of COVID-19 when Green announced her $10 million gift in September of 2018—nor when she stood at the groundbreaking for Phase II little more than a year later. But while the pandemic delayed last night’s long-awaited moment, it still was awfully sweet.
“It’s only the beginning,” said Milton Maltz, whose original $12 million gift with his wife, Tamar, and the Maltz Family Foundation of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland launched the project in 2010. As the ambitions of the original project expanded, the family and foundation later grew the contribution to $30 million.
Jerrold Scott, chair of the Department of Theater, producing director, and the Katharine Bakeless Nason Professor of Theater and Drama, spoke for students of today and tomorrow in expressing his gratitude for the completed space.
“I want to thank all of you,” he said, “who gave of your time and resources to making this dream of a facility a reality.”
President Eric Kaler also expressed gratitude to Milton and Tamar Maltz, their family foundation, and everyone else who contributed to the project.
“This really is a magnificent space,” Kaler said. “[It] is not just a treasure for our campus, but for University Circle, for the greater Cleveland community and beyond.”
The event Wednesday featured student musical and dramatic performances—as well as a surprise for President Emerita Barbara R. Snyder, who recognized the potential of the historic space during a visit in the fall of her first year on campus. Milton Maltz credited her “leadership and skill” for the project’s ultimate completion 14 years later.
In recognition of those efforts, he announced yet another gift, of $5 million, to name the center’s foyer in her honor, the Barbara R. Snyder Grand Atrium. A few moments later, trustee Frank Linsalata, board and search committee chair when Snyder was appointed president, took his own turn at the podium.
Linsalata, who also served as chair of the university’s $1.82 billion Forward Thinkingcampaign, presented the president emerita with a portrait “to commemorate your lasting contribution, vision and leadership.” The painting, by Robert Hartshorn, now hangs on the first floor of Adelbert Hall.
“I am overwhelmed with gratitude,” Snyder told the audience, calling her time as president an “honor and privilege… I have loved every minute of it.”