Know Your History: John R. Emens

In its first 25 years alone, more than 3.6 million people visited the then 3,581-seat auditorium to see 2,335 programs. The legendary acoustic, scalloped ceiling, and state-of-the-art sound capabilities of Emens Auditorium account for the attraction of many artists to performing in this facility.

Everyone has heard about "Emens," but do we really know why the auditorium's namesake is important?

In 1926 he received his bachelor's degree at Eastern Michigan University. The next year he attended the University of Michigan and obtained his master's degree and then became an instructor there.

On August 1, 1945 he was inaugurated as President of Ball State University, becoming the sixth president of this university. He envisioned a "campus of the future," including an addition of an auditorium "large enough to house most college functions as well as major symphonies, Broadway productions, ballets, and other forms of entertainment for Muncie and east central Indiana audiences."

Planning for the auditorium began as early as 1947, but the U-shaped building was not actually built until 1961. The structure includes the Hargreeves Music Building, Arts and Communications Building, and the 410-seat University Theatre. Emens' dream was finally realized on March 14-15, 1964, when the auditorium gave its first performances in the form of a "sneak preview," and then it was officially dedicated on Oct. 25 the same year. Emens Auditorium has since been named after him.

In its first 25 years alone, more than 3.6 million people visited the then 3,581-seat auditorium to see 2,335 programs. The legendary acoustic, scalloped ceiling, and state-of-the-art sound capabilities of Emens Auditorium account for the attraction of many artists to performing in this facility.

After he retired he continued to live in Muncie, and continued to give back to the community. He was a fundraiser for the Muncie Civic Theater from 1974 to 1976. He also helped form an investment club called the Stock Watchers of Muncie.

John R. Emens died on October 25, 1976 in Muncie.