UNH dedicates Dodds Theater to alumnus William L. Bucknall Jr.

Elissa Sanci

The University of New Haven dedicated Dodds Theater in honor of William L. Bucknall Jr., April 10 at 4 p.m. Bucknall and his wife, their family, friends, members of the Board of Governors, alumni, students and faculty alike gathered at the entrance of the newly appointed Bucknall Theater to honor Bucknall’s generous donation to the university.

(From left to right) Mr. Bucknall, President Kaplan and a Graduate Student at the Bucknall Theater Dedication Ceremony, April 11.  (Charger Bulletin Photo by Nicholas McDermott)
(From left to right) Mr. Bucknall, President Kaplan and a Graduate Student at the Bucknall Theater Dedication Ceremony, April 11.
(Charger Bulletin Photo by Nicholas McDermott)

William “Bill” Bucknall grew up with a love of literature, theater, music and the arts. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from UNH in 1965 and went on to work for the human resources department of United Technologies Corp. He continued on to serve as senior vice president of UTC for 16 years, until retiring in Jan. 2008.

Bucknall, a former columnist of The Charger Bulletin, believes that the theater department, “not only provides students with an understanding of theater and all of the academics associated with it, but it also gives students a confidence in themselves to project who they are on stage.”

He adds that this is a skill directly relatable to life after college. “So much in the business world is about being able to stand on your own two feet and to persuade people to move in a certain way.”

Bucknall’s contributions to the theater department have helped it grow exponentially in the last three years. Previously, there had only been three theater-related majors; now, UNH offers 26 majors and 15 minors, according to College of Arts and Sciences Dean Lourdes Alvarez.

Alvarez said it was nice to be able to formally recognize Bucknall for all that he’s done. “The theater program has long informally referred to Bill as our ‘theater angel,’” Alvarez said.

“With his support, over the past few years, we have been able to renovate and upgrade the theater and transform it into a truly spectacular venue,” Alvarez added. With the money Bucknall donated, UNH added new paint and carpeting, refinished the lobby floor, remodeled the prop room, purchased new equipment, installed a state of the art sound system and added cutting edge lighting equipment.

Amanda Sigan, a cast member of UNH’s most recent production, The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, is thankful for Bucknall’s generous contributions to the theater program. “He’s donated so much new equipment and everything we do wouldn’t be possible without his generosity.”

Electrical Engineering and Theater Design double major, Erika Vargas, added in her celebratory speech that Bucknall has made it possible for her to peruse both of her interests simultaneously.

The new, updated sign was unveiled to a drum roll, and plaques were gifted by Vargas to Bucknall.

Members of the Theater Club stood passing out pamphlets and complimentary pocket-sized notebooks, while Fully Charged, UNH’s A Capella Group, sang renditions of Lorde’s “Royals” and Imagine Dragon’s “Demons” as guests arrived for the ceremonial unveiling of the theater.