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Vol.25, No. 18 Mar. 31, 2000

Roone Arledge Auditorium, Cinema Wins Raves as Most Versatile Space

The recent nationally telecast economic policy address by former presidential hopeful Bill Bradley brought wide exposure to one of the most impressive new spaces at Columbia—the Roone Arledge Auditorium and Cinema.

Since its opening at the beginning of the school year, the Arledge Auditorium has quickly assumed a place as the principal venue for major events on campus.

Further expanding its appeal will be the opening of the Arledge Cinema in April.

The11,700-square-foot auditorium is named in recognition of a commitment from University Trustee Roone Arledge, CC'52, the chairman of ABC News who is widely hailed as a broadcasting pioneer. During its first seven months of operation, the Arledge Auditorium has clearly surpassed all expectations, in the process reflecting the diversity and dynamism of life at Columbia.

"Our campus was in great need of a central, large space that was flexible enough to accommodate the extraordinary array of events produced in this very active community," explained Lerner Hall Executive Director Harris Schwartz. "And at last, with the Roone Arledge Auditorium, we have it."

Already it has been the site of hundreds of events, beginning with first-year orientation seminars right up to the recent appearance by Senator Bradley, followed by a conference on Black Feminism.

Events large and small have included the Student Activities Fair, a Chinese New Year Celebration, Internship Expo 2000, a University Orchestra concert, the Black Heritage Month opening reception, a conference on women in business, screenings by a student film society and holiday staff parties. The Arledge Auditorium has proved especially valuable as a way of "bringing New York City to campus," serving as a venue for events hosted by such outside organizations as the Museum of Modern Art International Committee and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"There's an amazing variety," Schwartz said of the events. "The space has been used almost every night in one form or another."

And, with the opening of the large balcony to be known as the Roone Arledge Cinema scheduled for early April, use of the space is bound to increase even more. The balcony features raked seating for approximately 400 along with an advanced projection and sound system, and can be closed off for use as a movie theater or other assembly space. When opened to the Arledge Auditorium below, it raises the facility's total seating capacity to 1,500.

Noted Schwartz, "The flexibility of the Arledge Auditorium and Cinema, along with its being fully outfitted with technologically advanced equipment and systems, will help to ensure its long-term success. The way the space is designed, you can put almost any kind of event in it and change the tone and lighting to match—it seems to become a different place each time."

The versatility of the space seems especially appropriate in light of the distinguished name it bears. Roone Arledge, who became chairman of ABC News in 1997 after serving as the division's president, has also been credited with revolutionizing the coverage of sports on television during his years as president of ABC Sports. He is widely regarded as one of the most innovative people ever to work in the television broadcasting industry. Over the years, his shows have received 36 Emmy Awards and 20 Peabody Awards.

In 1990, Arledge was honored with broadcasting's most prestigious distinction, when he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. He is also the recipient of the Gold Medal Award from the International Radio and Television Society, and he was the first television executive to receive the Medal of the Olympic Order from the International Olympic Committee.

Arledge serves as a director of the Council on Foreign Relations, Arts & Entertainment Networks, The History Channel, and ESPN. At Columbia , Arledge received the College's John Jay Award in 1979 followed by its highest honor, the Alexander Hamilton Medal, in 1998; he was presented the Gold Baton at the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards in 1995. Most recently, in 1999, he was elected to a six-year term as a University Trustee.