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The Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center at Auburn University today announced the official naming of the Bill and Carol Ham Amphitheater with a special dedication ceremony in the afternoon.
Nearly 200 guests, including local dignitaries, university officials, friends and family, joined the Hams in celebrating the occasion at the Gogue Center. The new name, which was approved by the Auburn Board of Trustees in September, honors the Hams’ deep service to the community and their transformative impact on the cultural landscape of the university, the city of Auburn and the state of Alabama.
“Carol and I are honored to have our names on this magnificent amphitheater,” said Bill Ham, Auburn’s mayor for two decades. “The Gogue Center is at the forefront of providing performing arts in Auburn and surrounding areas, and as a community we are treated to dozens of wonderful events, including those that teach the arts to Auburn youth, students from surrounding communities, and students at Auburn University. It is a place where the city and the university interface in the same way that the community supports university sporting events.
“We know it’s here thanks to the vision of Jay Gogue and the hard work of many people, many of whom are here today. Having an event like this is a humbling experience that I can’t quite describe.
After remarks, Gogue Center executive director Christopher Heacox and Mindy Street, director of development, presented the Hams with a commissioned illustration of the amphitheater created by Auburn alumnus and Gogue Center volunteer Betsy Logan. . A memorial marker bearing the amphitheater’s new name was later revealed near the venue’s entrance.
“What an honor to be here today and recognize the incredible leadership and enduring support that Bill and Carol Ham have provided to the great city of Auburn and all within this community for so many years,” said Bob Dumas, interim chairman of the Auburn board of directors and a longtime friend of Bill Ham. “Today we celebrate their longstanding contributions, and we do so in a truly appropriate place – a community formed where academia and performance intersect, strengthening our neighborly bonds with each other in brotherhood, l education and artistic expression Bill and Carol have been and continue to be strong supporters of the arts and Auburn University, and we cannot thank them enough for their unwavering commitment to the city of Auburn.
“On behalf of the Auburn University Board of Trustees, I am thrilled to see this nomination for two Auburn alumni who exemplify our beloved university’s creed and its land-grant mission of giving back to others.”
A native of Auburn and lifelong resident, Bill Ham was elected to the Auburn City Council in 1986. Two years later, he was elected mayor, a position he served for five consecutive terms. Supporting education and diversifying the local economy were among his top priorities during his tenure.
“One of my goals as mayor was to continue to improve our relationship between the city and the dress,” Bill Ham said. “Jay Gogue and I shared a goal to do better and more effective work for the city and the university through mutual support. I am delighted that Chris [Roberts] and Ron [Anders] will continue this excellent relationship.
During his tenure as mayor, Auburn maintained one of Alabama’s highest-rated school systems, and with the addition of more than 3,000 high-tech jobs, the city began to thrive as a powerhouse. economy of the region.
“I’ve never been around someone who was so focused on doing the right thing for the right reason,” Auburn Mayor Ron Anders said. “Every day Bill Ham got up, he tried to make Auburn better, and he worked for Auburn everywhere, all the time. Bill Ham wanted to make Auburn the best they could be, and he worked tirelessly.
“As we celebrate the naming of this amphitheater for Bill and Carol, I think it’s perfect because it’s a representation of the partnerships Bill has fostered in our community. It is representative of his total commitment to our city and our university, and it is a place where our families can have a good time and celebrate precious memories together.
Bill Ham has also worked tirelessly to strengthen the partnership between the city and the university. He was instrumental in the establishment of Auburn Research Park, the expansion of Auburn University Regional Airport, and the consolidation of the city and university police forces. He was also a driving force behind the town’s original donation in support of the construction of the Gogue Center and its naming of the town of Auburn Lawn and Porch.
“Bill and Carol were early supporters of building this performing arts center here in Auburn,” said Auburn University President Christopher B. Roberts. “They understood the positive cultural and economic impact this would have on our campus and our community as a whole. They also knew it would enhance our city’s reputation and contribute to a better quality of life for our citizens.
“Bill and Carol, we thank you for your love of our city and for your love of Auburn University, and I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to honor Bill and Carol’s commitment and dedication to our community than to have our amphitheater bear their name. The Bill and Carol amphitheater will long be a reminder of their legacy that I hope will serve as an inspiration to others of the impact you can have when you live your life in the service of others.
Carol Ham has been an educator in Auburn City Schools for over 30 years. In addition to her time spent with students in the classroom, she hosted an after-school tutoring program at the Boykin Center for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lee County for nearly a decade.
She continues to serve the community in many volunteer roles, including serving as the house society president of the Alpha Beta Chapter of Chi Omega, and assisting with multiple disaster recovery and COVID-19 relief efforts led by the East Alabama Medical Center.
The Hams both earned bachelor’s degrees in education from the university in 1977, with Carol earning a master’s degree in education in 1979.
The couple have a deep appreciation for the arts and champion the positive cultural and economic impacts the arts provide. They were Gogue Center’s earliest advocates and remain passionate participants in its continued success – as season subscribers, sponsors and donors.
Bill was a founding member of the Gogue Center Development Board and currently sits on its Engagement Board. Committed philanthropists, the couple also fund a scholarship awarded by the Auburn University College of Education and support the Spencer Cancer Center at East Alabama Medical Center.
“There was phenomenal interaction between the city and Auburn University during the time I was here,” said former Auburn University president Jay Gogue, who was joined by his wife, Susie, as speakers at the celebration. “Bill and Carol are great people, and this recognition is fitting. On behalf of all of us, we say thank you.
The 17,000-square-foot, 5,000-seat amphitheater opened in August 2019 with the Walter Stanley Theater and Virginia Katharyne Evans Woltosz. The Gogue Center introduced a new series of amphitheaters as part of its 2022-23 performing arts season.
The series’ first lineup included performances this fall from Vince Gill and Wendy Moten; Jason Isbell and Unit 400; and Tab Benoit and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band will join Motown legend Smokey Robinson to close out the series on Saturday, April 22.