The Jay and Susie Gogue Performing Arts Center at Auburn University recently announced the official naming of the Bill and Carol Ham Amphitheater during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Nearly 200 guests including local dignitaries, university officials, friends and relatives joined the Hams to celebrate the occasion at the Gogue Center. The new name, approved by the Auburn Board of Trustees in September, honors the Hams’ service to the community and their transformative impact on the cultural landscape of the university and the city of Auburn.
“Carol and I are honored to have our names on this magnificent amphitheater,” said Bill Ham, who served as mayor of Auburn 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.
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 commemorative plaque bearing the new name of the amphitheater was unveiled near the entrance to the hall.
“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.
“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.
Auburn native and longtime resident Bill Ham was elected to the Auburn City Council in 1986. Two years later he was elected mayor, a role 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.”
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.
Bill Ham was instrumental in establishing the Auburn Research Park, expanding the Auburn University Regional Airport, and consolidating the city and university police forces. He was also a driving force behind the city’s original donation to build the Gogue Center.
“Bill and Carol were early supporters of building this performing arts center here in Auburn,” said UA 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.
Carol Ham has been an educator in Auburn City Schools for over 30 years. In addition to her classroom time, 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 assisting with multiple disaster recovery and COVID-19 relief efforts led by 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.
Bill Ham was a founding member of the Gogue Center Development Board and 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.
The 17,000-square-foot, 5,000-seat amphitheater opened in 2019.
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, and Jason Isbell and Unit 400. Tab Benoit and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band will join Motown legend Smokey Robinson to close the series on April 22.
This story originally appeared on the Auburn University website.