It is not only the University’s largest lecture hall, but also the setting for
public speakers, movies, plays, meetings, and other events. And yet
until recently, the room—one of the busiest and most important spaces
on campus—was known simply as a number: 100. However, at the
rededication of Sleith Hall on December 9, the University gathered in
this spectacularly renovated venue with a new look and a new name:
the Lyman and Leslie Wood Auditorium.
The story behind this naming gift from two local philanthropists is one
of generosity—and deep appreciation. The auditorium, according to the
plaque outside the door, was given in honor of the couple’s friend, President Anthony S. Caprio, “for his leadership in expanding the facilities
and educational offerings at Western New England University and for
creating meaningful impact in the greater Springfield community.”
The Hampden, MA couple explained that their charitable interests focus
on giving back to area nonprofits, especially organizations where their
donations will have long-term value and impact, including the Springfield Museums, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, and CityStage.
They are true philanthropists at heart, whether it be boosting the arts,
strengthening the Springfield community, or taking in a homeless person and helping him get back on his feet—something they recently did.
“We’re just as proud of the one-on-one efforts that no one hears about,”
said Leslie. Another example: following a trip to Acapulco, they provided financial assistance to a man they had met there after he lost
everything to Hurricane Manuel in 2013. Indeed, much of their support
takes place behind the scenes, with off-the-record contributions to organizations throughout the Pioneer Valley.
Both say their parents’ generosity fueled their philanthropic principles,
and supporting higher education is an important element in Lyman and
Leslie’s giving philosophy. “The colleges and the universities have done
so much for the area,” said Lyman. “They
are economic generators, they produce educated workers, and Western New England
University has been a significant contributor
to the economic health of the region. The
University’s growth over the years, with its
new buildings and programs—and more students—has been phenomenal, thanks to Dr.
Caprio’s vision and hard work, and we
wanted to show our appreciation.”
LYMAN AND LESLIE WOOD:
MODELS OF GENEROSITY
Read about the Rededication
of Sleith Hall on page 4.
Lyman and Leslie with
Lyman and Leslie Wood are interviewed
by WWLP TV 22 News about Sleith Hall.