When Dr. Evelyn E. Jorgenson began her presidency at Moberly Area Community College in 1996, the college was making plans to build the Activity Center, which would hold the Fitzsmmons-John Arena, the new home of the Greyhounds Basketball team. The old Coliseum and home to the famed Greyhounds since 1931 would soon sit vacant. It was a large, but also sacred place to many fans and she knew there had to be great care and forethought put into whatever plans the College had for that space.
Dr. Jorgenson’s bachelor degree is in fine arts and it grieved her that all of MACC’s fine arts classes were in the basement of the college with no natural light or room to expand. There was also no gallery to display student works.
By 2000, she had researched and worked with architects long enough to propose a renovation that would preserve the hallowed floors of the basketball court, provide top-quality space for the fine arts and create a graphic arts program to help fund the entire venture. Because fine arts funding was difficult to secure, she decided to house the Career and Technical Graphic Arts program in the new wing, which allowed her to use Vocational Enhancement Grant funds to pay for much of the project. It was an ingenious idea that tied two complimentary programs into a perfect space.
The $1.4 million renovation opened to the public in February 2002 and included a gallery in the center of the building. This gallery was a specific request of Dr. Jorgenson. She wanted everyone who entered the wing to be surrounded by art. She didn’t want it tucked away at the end of hall where no one would ever see it. She created two glass rooms to showcase items that would need to be protected. The two-story center section of the gallery allows for large exhibits and the ability to fly artwork above attendees. The wing also includes a pressroom, ceramics studio, plate making room, sculpture studio, two computer labs, painting and drawing studio, two classrooms and eight offices.
In January 2003, Dr. Jorgenson’s influence on the Arts continued with the establishment of the MACC Endowment for the Arts to continue “to develop, support and promote cultural activities and the arts, particularly as related to the Center.” Due to the support of fellow Arts patrons, the Endowment now totals over $80,000 and provides grants to faculty and events
Upon Dr. Jorgenson’s retirement in June 2013, the MACC Board of Trustees honored her 27 years of service to the College with the renaming of the wing as the Evelyn E. Jorgenson Fine Arts Center.
Today, the gallery hosts a number of exhibits each year from local artists to internationally recognized works to local high school and college student exhibits. Student work lines the walls and the classrooms are filled each semester.
The Center remains a source of pride for MACC and the Moberly community.