Theater Dedicated in Honor of Longstanding Donor Bill Bucknall ’63 A.S. ’65

Theater Dedicated in Honor of Longstanding Donor Bill Bucknall ’63 A.S. ’65

by Mark Drozdowski
Director of University Communications

Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, Board of Governors members and visitors gathered last Thursday for the official dedication of Bucknall Theater, named for Bill Bucknall ’63 A.S., ’65.

Bucknall’s generosity in recent years has helped fund new lighting, sound and motorized rigging systems, and an upgraded seating area in what was formerly known as University Theater in Dodds Hall.

“Bill has been a major benefactor to the theater program,” President Steve Kaplan said, “and we are proud to acknowledge his generosity by naming this facility in his honor today.

(L-R) Erika Vargas '15, Lourdes Alvarez, Bill Bucknall, Steve Kaplan and Phil Bartels.

"He is a Renaissance man and is interested in great literature, great theater, great music and everything in the arts that really identifies us as human beings.”

A longtime member of the Board of Governors and current vice chair, Bucknall spent 41 years at United Technologies, rising through the ranks to become senior vice president of human resources and organization for 16 years before retiring in 2008. He became one of the top human resources professionals in the nation and was inducted into the National Academy of Human Resources in 1997.

Bucknall’s remarks focused on his working-class upbringing and the debt of gratitude he owes his forebears. “Recently, I had the opportunity to research in depth the geneology of both my mother’s and father’s families,” he said. “As best I can tell, my extended family, some of whom are with us today, were the first to graduate from college. The occupations of those who preceded us were, among others, bricklayers, potato dealers, clerks, bus conductors, shop assistants, steam fitters, stenographers, butchers, maids and the like. It is the ordinary people whose sacrifices made it possible for me to stand before you. So when we place the Bucknall name on the UNH theater, it is all those who came before us that we honor today.”

Lourdes Alvarez, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, thanked Bucknall for the various theater improvements his philanthropy has supported, though she was quick to recognize the deeper impact. “These cosmetic enhancements make a big difference,” she said, “but far more important is the difference Bill’s generosity has made in the lives of our students.”

One such student, Erika Vargas, a junior from Castro Valley, Calif., majoring in electrical engineering and theater design, spoke about the theater program’s growing popularity and its educational benefits.

“This program has given me a home where I can be myself, where I can express myself and work alongside colleagues who share my love of the theater,” she said. “I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. The theater program has not only helped me grow as a lighting designer—it has helped me in all aspects of life.

“Theater goes beyond simply telling a story. There’s a lot more to theater than what the audience actually sees—things that people like Bill Bucknall make possible. We learn to find our voices, to express ourselves with confidence, which matters for the rest of our lives. So thank you so much, Mr. Bucknall, for sharing our love of theater and for everything you have done to make this program as wonderful as it is today.”

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