From Prairie Sod to Campus Cornerstones

C.Y. Stephens Auditorium, 1969
C.Y. Stephens Auditorium


Built : 1966-1969

Architect: Crites & McConnell and Brooks-Borg & Skiles

Acoustical Consultant:  Paul S. Veneklasen & Associates



Construction on the Auditorium began in 1966, and the total cost was $4,500,000, based entirely on gifts and grants from alumni, students, faculty, and other friends of the university.

The seating capacity is as follows (total: 2637):
Main floor:  1618
First balcony: 457
Second balcony: 352
Third balcony: 210

The immense Japanese-made stage curtain was the gift of J.W. Fisher of Marshalltown, Iowa.  It is 80 feet wide by 30 feet high.  In 2004, C.Y. Stephens Auditorium was named "Building of the Century," by the American Institute of Architects, Iowa Chapter.  The buildings were judged on their original criteria and societal and social impact.

Who was C.Y. Stephens?:

Clifford Y. Stephens, originally from Cherokee County, Georgia, graduated from Iowa State College (University) in 1925 with a degree in Dairy Science.  His first job was as manager of the Farmers Co-Operative Milk Plant in Marshalltown, Iowa.  He founded High's Dairy Product Corporation in 1933 in the District of Columbia area, and later pioneered jug milk distribution in Washington and Baltimore.

Stephens established a scholarship foundation at Iowa State, and also chaired the university's national campaign for the construction of a cultural and educational center (the Iowa State Center).  He also pledged to donate $1 million to the center, and fulfilled this pledge by donating his High's Dairy corporation stock to Iowa State.  As stated on a plaque in the auditorium, Stephens said, "I would have liked to write a fine poem or a great book, or possibly made a worthy discovery in science, but since all these accomplishments have been denied me, I shall use my ability to accumulate money in such a manner as to make it possible to train many others to do the things I would have done."

Of Iowa State itself, he said "I love the place.  It gave me what I needed to get through life.  My gift is repayment for what Iowa State did for me."  C.Y. Stephens married Mary Anne Marsh (Class of 1928) in 1931, and they had seven children. He was killed in an automobile accident in 1963.


Images of C.Y. Stephens Auditorium interior


C.Y. Stephens Auditorium, 1969   C.Y. Stephens Auditorium, 1976

History of Campus Buildings at Iowa State University

Comments: University Archives
Created by: Andrea Reis, Research/Technical Assistant & Jill Osweiler Schaefer, Special Collections Librarian

Updated by: Michele Christian, University Records Analyst