By Natasha Muhametzyanova, contributing writer
Spring is almost here, which means that a very large event is soon to begin on the Hilltop. The annual Great Gala will take place at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, April 30, 2016 at Glessner Auditorium, Oglebay Resort. This year will mark the sixth anniversary of the event. During these six years the Great Gala has attracted students, alumni and the media.
The first Great Gala was held on April 30, 2011. The event marked a transition from West Liberty State College to West Liberty University.
“The first Great Gala is very special to me,” said Vice President of institutional advancement Jason Koegler. “The University went through many changes that year, and we wanted to let people in the community know how great WLU is. I remember how all the tickets were sold out, and people who have never been to WLU before became interested in the University. That is the moment I realized that the Great Gala is here to stay,” said Koegler.
From then on, every April Glessner Auditorium transformed for one night into something new. The Great Gala is not just a reception; it is a showcase of ideas born within WLU. Every year the Gala features a special theme for the night organized by WLU institutional advancement staff, WLU marketing department and student volunteers.
Throughout last six years guests of the Great Gala immersed themselves into the world of Great Gatsby (2011), Vaudeville (2012), Agent 007 (2013), World War II Victory party (2014), and Night at the Oscars (2015). This year the Great Gala will feature a Kentucky Derby theme, which also happens to be President Greiner’s home-state.
Apart from being a fun get-together for WLU friends, students and supporters, the Great Gala serves a greater purpose – it provides students with scholarships. “The Great Gala helped us raise over 200,000 dollars for scholarships and campus renovation projects but, more importantly, it inspired donors to get more involved with the WLU community,” said Koegler.
Inspired by serious purpose the Great Gala is a fun, upscale social event. This year guests should expect colorful, elegant dresses and extravagant hats. Wheeling band Hit Play will entertain the guests. The band is already familiar with the event as they appeared on the Great Gala stage last year. Hit Play is the only band to perform at the Great Gala twice. Two band members, Eli Lambie and David Tangamo are also WLU students.
Theater and music majors often get a chance to perform in front of a large and diverse audience at the Great Gala. The Great Gala also provides WLU students with a valuable experience in event planning, set design and much more. Students are involved in every stage of the event and all WLU students are welcome to help. If you have ideas which will benefit the Great Gala stop by the office of institutional advancement located on the third floor of Shaw Hall or contact Jason Koegler here.