Berry College officials received news of a $1 million gift Tuesday from the foundation of the late philanthropist Bobbie Bailey during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new campus theatre.
Bailey’s sister, Audrey Morgan, announced the gift at the project site next to Blackstone Hall on campus.
“We learn so much about who we are as individuals and as a community through the arts. I am honored to help bring facilities to Berry that will give such wonderful, talented students new opportunity to grow artistically and personally,” Morgan said.
Bailey served as a Kennesaw State University Foundation Trustee for more than 22 years. What began with music scholarships became an endowment and naming of the 624-seat Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center at Kennesaw State. She became a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and she served as president of the Friends of Georgia Music Festival, Inc. Bailey was also executive producer of the annual Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.
During World War II, she worked for a company that refabricated refrigeration compressors, which led to the start of her own company, Our-Way, Inc. As sole owner and CEO, Bailey built the company into a $45 million-a-year enterprise. Morgan served as the CFO and was an integral part of Our-Way’s success.
Morgan, a passionate advocate for the arts and Berry students, led fundraising for the new theatre with a $1 million challenge gift in 2015. Her generosity inspired others, resulting in more than $4 million in additional gifts in just one year’s time. Only $600,000 is left to complete $6.7 million in fundraising for the 250-seat black-box theatre. The project will also renovate historic Blackstone hall, the oldest brick building on Berry’s campus. The new theatre is scheduled to open for the 2017-18 academic year.
A visionary donor who also helped spur development of the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship Program, Morgan has committed more than $7.5 million to programs and facilities benefiting Berry students. She is a member of the Board of Visitors and because of her lifetime achievements, she is a recipient of Berry’s honorary doctorate.
Morgan’s generosity is well-known in the Atlanta area. One of her greatest accomplishments was the formation of a fundraising group for the American Heart Association in Atlanta. Her work with the group has spanned 17 years and she has been a close friend to the American Heart Association for decades. She and her late husband, Jack, are also the founders of the Audrey and Jack Morgan Foundation Scholarship that allows DeKalb Medical employees to continue advancing their education. Morgan also participated with Bailey’s philanthropy at Kennesaw State.
After the groundbreaking, the audience enjoyed Berry College Theatre Company’s outdoor production of “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Due to the renovation of the E.H. Young Theatre, the shows this season will be performed in various locations around campus giving students and audiences the valuable experience of outdoor theatre.