LRU News

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams donate $36,000 of furniture to LRU

Tue Jun 10 2014

HICKORY, N.C. — Lenoir-Rhyne University’s P.E. Monroe Auditorium, built in 1957, has gotten a fresh new interior look to its lobby, thanks to a donation by one of the school’s most generous supporters.

This spring Mitchell Gold donated $36,000 worth of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture to the University, helping to refurnish P.E. Monroe Auditorium’s lobby. The 31 pieces include couches, tables and chairs, rugs and benches.

The idea for the gift was planted when Barbara Dugan, the wife of LR’s former Business Department Chair Michael Dugan, approached Gold to discuss buying furniture to refurbish the auditorium’s outdated décor.

“As soon as she said it I knew they needed it,” Gold said. “The auditorium’s furniture had nothing to do with the classic mid-century modern building—so I decided to donate the furniture Barbara had asked to buy.”

Stylish new furniture that makes use of chrome and glass for its modern classic look has replaced the oak and green leather mission-style couches. Deceptively comfortable high-backed chairs sit beside silver-enameled sections of tree trunks repurposed as pull-up tables.

Gold first formed ties with Lenoir-Rhyne in 2005 shortly after founding Faith in America.

In early 2009, following the publication of his book “Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Social, Personal and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America,” Gold was invited to return to LR to take part in the Visiting Writers Series. But this time the series’ founder Dr. Rand Brandes wanted more than the traditional format where the author speaks for 40 minutes then takes questions for 20 minutes.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you get one of your fancy friends to come interview you?’” Gold recalled. “So I called Soledad O’Brien, who was with CNN at the time, and invited her to Hickory. She agreed and we did the interview for a packed house in the P.E. Auditorium.”

In 2013 Gold’s invitation to CNN’s Chief Political Anchor Wolf Blitzer was compelling enough that the CNN mainstay came to Lenoir-Rhyne’s P.E. Monroe Auditorium to moderate a public dialogue titled “Politics, Religion and LGBT Equality” between Gold an African American minister and a Baptist preacher.

“I’m grateful to Lenoir-Rhyne for the opportunity and the venue to have these kinds of life-changing public discourses,” Gold said. “I intend to continue my partnership with the university and to continue to offer scholarships to our employee’s children—we have at least four or five attending LR right now and we hire LR grads.”

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