Curtains Open for Mitchell Education Center

Curtains Open for Mitchell Education Center

A group of UCO leaders and faculty prepare to cut the ribbon for the grand opening of the new Mitchell Education Center (Kateleigh Mills/ The Vista). 

The College of Fine Arts and Design held a grand opening for the Mitchell Education Center on Aug. 31, which will be used for classes and performances.

The $5.7 million building was approved two years ago under Dean Pamela Washington. The building was a build-out designed by Elliot + Associates Architects who have designed other projects for UCO, like the STEM building and the CHK Central Boathouse.

The money for the center was paid for by the master lease program, Section 13 and donor contributions, according to Steven Akins, CFAD marketing and communications director.

Dr. Greg White, assistant dean of CFAD, said the center will be a great tool to recruit new students as well as make it easier for students who put on productions.

“I think I am most excited for students who were here last year or here the year before because they will fully appreciate what it is that we’ve got now,” White said. “It is the type of rehearsal space and backstage that our students deserve.”

The building added 17,000 square feet connected to the 1926 Mitchell Hall venue. The center adds two rehearsal spaces, dressing rooms, classrooms, a green room, full costume shop, makeup lab, open gallery, study lounges, faculty offices and a storm shelter that was designed to hold 700 people, about a full audience.

“The costume shop, I think, is my favorite,” White said.

At the grand opening, CFAD Dean Steven Hansen said the center will inspire greatness in the students, adding that projects like the center can only come to fruition with the support of strong institutional-wide leadership.

President Don Betz cut a ribbon at the grand opening and gave a speech, saying that the center is an extraordinary complement to Mitchell Hall’s history.

“We now have the complement that has been needed for some time,” Betz said. “A facility that says we aren’t going to put you in the corners of where we can find a space for you. A place that says the College of Fine Arts and Design… has a place on this campus for all time.”

Following his speech was performances from CFAD students, including musical theatre senior, Michael Andreaus, who said he was excited to utilize the building.

“Getting to see and experience it is really cool,” Andreaus said. “I love the green room. It is just really modern-looking.”

Andreaus said the space also allows the different CFAD majors a space where they can get together and collaborate.

“We get the opportunity to get to perform in the same settings,” Andreaus said. “But we don’t really get the chance to talk or meet or interact much, unless we have class together.”

The first production that the center will be used for will be the musical Chicago in October, White said.

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