The Grambling State University World-Famed Tiger Marching Band played an up tempo beat as the crowd gathered in front of the soon to be named Conrad Hutchinson Jr. Performing Arts Center and Floyd L. Sandle Theatre. Mistress of ceremonies, Joyce B. Evans, station manager of KGRM, greeted the crowd with a pleasant good morning as she reminded the group that God is good. Dr. Frank G. Pogue, Grambling’s interim president, extended words of welcome and introduced guests such as former presidents, Raymond Hicks and his wife Georgia and Dr. Steve Favors and his wife Charlotte. Other guests in the audience included Dr. Mildred Gallot, member of the Louisiana System Board and retired GSU history head.
“I stand on the shoulders of many who new this day would come,” said Dr. Larry Pannell, GSU Music Department director of the band.
Pannell recalled when the band began with only 17 instruments purchased from what was then Sears and Roebuck. He looked through the audience and acknowledged Viola Wiley, the wife of Mr. William Wiley, Hutchinson’s right hand. Pannell closed by saying Hutchinson and Wiley had accomplished their goal, which was to make the Grambling State University Tiger Marching Band number one in the land.
Dr. Allen Williams, professor and head emeritus of the Speech and Theatre Department, said, “Dr. Floyd Sandle would be proud to know we are moving into this new building.”
Williams recalled the department being located on the north end of Long-Jones Hall with two classrooms, then moving into Dunbar Hall during the summer of 1956. The department presented many one acts directed by Dr. Sandle, a first among them was “Old Man Pete” written by his former instructor.
Dr. Pogue said he received e-mails and phone calls requesting the fine arts building be named for Conrad Hutchinson Jr. and theatre for Floyd L. Sandle. He said Grambling State University is a place that is known to create and produce legends.
“I can remember a president before Dr. Pogue said, the only way the name could be placed was with a $1 million donation, but I know Hutchinson and Wiley is smiling down on this day,” said Dr. Jeanette Hutchinson, widow of Mr. Hutchinson and professor in the Kinesiology Department.
Hutchinson thanked Mrs. Wiley and everyone especially the GSU alumni who assisted in the push to have the building named after her husband.
After the dedication prayer by Rev. Clarence R. Jackson, a former band member, the audience sang the GSU “Fight” song written by Mr. Wiley and set to music by Mr. Hutchinson.
The World-Famed Tiger Marching Band played its way to the soon to be named Fredrick C.
“I am speaking for a group of men that came before and after me. We are happy to see the dedication of this building take place,” said Willis Reed, former basketball player and NBA Hall of Famer.
Reed congratulated the GSU basketball teams for their season accomplishments. Donnita Drain Rogers, women’s coach, was chosen Coach of the Year and George Washington, men’s coach, received a full-time position. He also offered his assistance in recruiting.
Dr. Pogue expressed that just as with the performing arts building, many request had come to him about the naming of the assembly center. Going a step further, a request to the System Board will be made to name the lobby of the center the Mary Alice Hobdy Lobby.
“You can’t get through this building without walking through Mary,” Pogue said.
Mrs. Hobdy worked at Grambling State University for 43 years in various positions and for three presidents.
“On this day, the dream and hope of witnessing the dedication of the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center is a great reality,” said Dr. Jimmy McJamerson, representing the Hobdy family.
Dr. McJamerson explained that Lisa Hobdy-Martin, daughter of Fredrick and Mary Hobdy, was scheduled to speak for the family but Martin sent her gratitude to Dr. Pogue for his wisdom and kindness in honoring Lenny’s (brother) and her father. She expressed appreciation and God’s blessings to each person who helped to make the day possible.
“Coach Hobdy loved Grambling, and there is no doubt that he gave his time, money and deeds to promote and assist in making GSU a household name, nationally and internationally.
“He was more than a coach. He was a mentor, a disciplinarian, a chef, and many times a loan officer for his students and players,” said McJamerson.