March began with the completion of the Leftwich Auditorium construction in the business department of Oklahoma Christian University. The renovation took about three months and included updates to the atrium of Harvey Business Hall and the installation of energy-efficient LED lighting in the common areas throughout the building.
The auditorium’s name honors former Professor Howard Leftwich, who started the accounting major at Oklahoma Christian. He was named Chairman of the School of Business at Oklahoma Christian before his retirement in 1999.
Leftwich’s wife, Marylin, family and former fellow faculty members attended the inauguration ceremony.
Jeff Simmons, professor of business, said business alumni students approached him wanting to honor former Professor Leftwich.
“I set out to find a way to do that,” Simmons said. “I worked with Stephen Christy and Tessa Wright, Creative Director in the OC Marketing Department, to plan the technology, the furniture, and the carpeting for the room.”
Simmons said the fundraiser process was long, but the auditorium was ready in time for classes this semester.
“We have been raising money for a couple of years,” Simmons said. “Once we had received all the funds, we moved forward. … The renovation to the auditorium was extensive even though we did not change anything structural except for knocking a rather large hole in a wall to install a window. The only thing that was not replaced in the room was the audio speakers. But this project went beyond the renovation of the auditorium.”
Simmons said while the cost of the renovation was under $300,000, they wanted the room to project a quality image.
“The lighting and projection system was awful,” Simmons said. “The projector was not strong enough to be seen without turning off half the lights. …. The room did not project an aura of professionalism and quality.”
Business student Catharina Ribeiro said she feels satisfied with how the business department has increased the quality of her education.
“It is incredible to see that the business department continues to invest in our education,” Ribeiro said. “It is the same as saying they are investing in us to be better professionals in the future.”
Accounting student Kaytlin Raney said the new auditorium’s look is professional and helps with the learning process.
“It is a lot brighter, which makes it easier to learn,” Raney said. “I think the business department has done a good job of improving their space and that is definitely seen through the new room, but even the finance lab that we have is really cool. … It makes you feel like you are in the business world and you are in the business building.”
Ribeiro said she is excited to continue to use the new auditorium.
“I’m happy to have this brand-new room,” Ribeiro said. “I’ve had a couple of classes in there already and it is very modern. The business classes always have a lot of students, so it is important to have a place with this level of technology. It definitely gives you a feel of what the business industry looks like.”
Raney said having a more spacious room during the pandemic is essential.
“With COVID-19, it has been nice to be able to spread out,” Raney said. “It is our business capstone class so there are a lot of seniors in there, and we were cramming in the room in the back of the business building before, so it’s nice to get to have some more space.”
Simmons said the auditorium will benefit students as a better learning environment.
“The benefits from this project to the students go well beyond the renovation of the Leftwich Auditorium,” Simmons said. “The project also set a goal to raise a half-million dollars for the Leftwich Endowment, which will be used to provide scholarships for business majors as well as provide funds to continually update the technology in the School of Business.”