The University of Wyoming views its Marian H. Rochelle Center as its “front door” — a modern multipurpose facility on the extreme southeastern corner of campus, welcoming students, alumni and gameday visitors to UW.
Driving west on Grand Avenue, one cannot help but notice the building’s monolith, lit up during the December night in a festive red and green.
Following UW football or basketball wins, those colors shine gold and white, said Mary Ivanoff, UW Foundation vice president for administration and donor relations. At other times, the monolith takes on the colors associated with a nearby holiday or day of awareness.
“The thought was it would be a way to engage not just the campus community with the winning colors for football and basketball, but also a way to engage the community in various events and times that are important to them,” she said.
“It really has been rewarding to see how many people do request and want to use the lighting for important social issues that impact everybody.”
The monolith glows red, white and blue for Independence Day, green for Veterans Day, orange for Halloween and fall colors throughout Thanksgiving weekend.
“Pretty much the traditional holidays in the U.S., we try to do the lights to kind of reflect that because it’s just a fun thing for the community,” Ivanoff said.
The foundation also changes those colors to reflect various days of awareness, such as for autism, breast cancer, alzheimer’s, diabetes and domestic violence. They turned the monolith into a rainbow for one day during June, which is recognized by the LGBT community as pride month.
“We get a lot of requests and all for worthy causes and that’s why ultimately it’s a decision either our president, Ben Blalock, makes or he makes it with the president of the university,” Ivanoff said. “Otherwise, we’d be changing the lights every single day.”
The monolith and exterior lighting — which lines the base of the building and is often changed to matched the monolith’s color scheme — also commemorate important events both in the state and internationally.
“When there’s been fallen officers in Wyoming, we’ve been contacted by various agencies about changing the lighting for that.”
The monolith is also used to show UW’s solidarity with far-away places experiencing tough times. For example, it honored the victims of the 2016 bombings in Brussels by recreating the Belgian flag and the victims of terror attacks in France with that country’s colors.
She added the lights can also be a cause for celebration, and not just when the Cowboys or Cowgirls win.
“Lots of people are doing weddings here now and so you’ll often see a blue or a purple or a pink or a green on an evening and that reflects their wedding colors,” she said. “When they rent the space, they also can rent the building lighting.”
The Marian H. Rochelle Center opened in October 2014, funded entirely by private donations. The space hosts scientific and political symposiums, funding galas, UW Board of Trustees meetings and more. In its first months, Ivanoff said the Foundation lit up the monolith for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“I think, over that three-month period, people realized we could change the colors to an array of choices and the requests just kind of started rolling in after that,” she said. “It’s just turning into a great space for Laramie and I’m glad that we’re able to partner with everybody in this fashion.”