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Varner Hall

Built: 1969 | Type: instruction and research, recreational

Back of Paula and Woody Varner Hall, circa 1976

Quick Facts

  • Ground-Breaking Ceremony: 1969
  • Building Dedication: July 9, 1971
  • Cost: $4,800,000
  • Architect:  O'Dell, Hewlett, and Luckenbach
  • Construction: Spence Brothers
  • Funding:  Funds provided by Michigan State Legislature
  • Namesake: Chancellor Durward B. "Woody" Varner, who served as president of Oakland University for 12 years, and his wife, Paula.  The Varners were instrumental in the initial development of Oakland University, as well as the development of the university's performing arts program.


Varner Hall serves as the site of Oakland University's School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, incorporating classrooms, rehearsal and performance spaces, administrative offices, and -- originally -- fine arts libraries into its five stories.  The Varner Recital Hall presents a host of professional and student performances throughout the year; and the Studio Theatre serves as the venue for performances given by the university's Music, Theatre, and Dance majors.

This hub of on-campus culture is dedicated in reference to the aspirations of D.B. "Woody" Varner and his wife Paula, who took steps to ensure that the performing arts would have a permanent influence upon the campus, its students and faculty, and the surrounding community.

The building opened in Fall 1970s and the first concert held in Varner's Recital Hall took place on Oct. 1st, 1970, featuring various 17th and 18th centuries compositions  performed by the Oakland University Baroque Ensemble.  At the time the Recital Hall could sit 485. There was another 200-seat experimental theater in the building. Since that time, the recital hall has provided OU's MTD program with countless opportunities to explore and share the fine arts with performing arts enthusiasts from both on campus and off.

For more information

School of Music, Theater and Dance

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Photos courtesy of the Oakland University Archives.



Created by Mariela Hristova / Updated on May 24, 2019 by Mariela Hristova

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