John J. Pruis came to Ball State University on July 1, 1968. A former vice president at Western Michigan University, this native of Holland, Michigan, served as Ball State's seventh president for 10 years. It was under his administration that Pruis Hall, originally University Hall, was built, as well as facilities for the College of Architecture and Planning, the Alexander M. Bracken Library, and the Ralph Whitinger Business Building. University Hall was completed in October 1972. This hall met Ball State's need for an intermediate-sized venue for the performing arts. In wide use from early morning until late evening seven days a week, Pruis Hall has also accommodated large lecture classes for many academic disciplines and is used for conferences, clinics, workshops, film showings, special university lectures, and faculty meetings. The 668-seat multipurpose hall was dedicated on October 13, 1973, in a program including music and the conferral of an honorary doctor of laws degree upon Arthur Fiedler, the colorful conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra.
The Indianapolis architectural firm of Evans Woollen and Associates designed the hall to look like a grand piano with its unusual blend of curved and angular walls and free standing supports. It is a two-story structure of Indiana limestone and cement with a large, well-lighted glass foyer; it was designed as a contrast to its nearest neighbors, the massive brick Bracken Library and Emens Auditorium.
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