Culture on Display as UC Merced Dedicates Auditorium

Merced community members are welcome to celebrate the lasting gift Dr. Hanimireddy Lakireddy has given to the University of California, Merced, campus by attending the dedication of the Dr. Lakireddy Auditorium.

The dedication, from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, will feature East Indian music and dance, as well as a discussion by Dr. Lakireddy himself on the educational journey. Dr. Lakireddy is hosting a reception, as well, highlighting East Indian food and drink. The event is open to the public, but event planners ask that people RSVP by Monday, Oct. 9.

The Merced cardiologist gave his $1 million gift in 2002 to enhance the auditorium that is part of the Classroom Building. The building and auditorium opened in January 2006 and since then, the auditorium has been home to UC Merced's first graduation as well as many other events and large lecture classes.

Lakireddy, his wife, Vijaya, and their sons, Vikram and Sidhardha, presented the gift to then UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey at a private dinner. Lakireddy, originally from India, said he understands the need for higher education because he grew up in an area that was impoverished, but thanks to his schooling, he was "able to make something of myself."

He an his family have looked for ways to support UC Merced, and his niece, Jhansi, and her husband, Dr. Rajender Reddy, a cardiologist, from Hanford, earlier this year gave $1 million for the university's new student health center, opening this fall on the second floor of the Joseph E. Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center.

Until Lakireddy's gift, the auditorium was designed as a spoken-word venue for lectures. But his donation allowed for a larger stage, high-quality acoustical features, a system for state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment and backstage rooms for performers, musical and performance equipment and general storage.

With the improved auditorium, the university can offer a variety of performances, such as plays, recitals, concerts and lectures, which can be enjoyed by the university community as well as the public - like the dance and music of SiliconAndhra, a Silicon Valley group that will perform at the dedication ceremony.

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