Resnicks: Changing name not our idea | AspenTimes.com

Resnicks: Changing name not our idea

John Colson

Lynda Resnick said Friday that putting her name on what most people in town call Paepcke Auditorium was not her idea or that of her husband, Stewart.The suggestion, she said, came from the Aspen Institute in response to the Resnicks’ offer of $4 million to renovate the institute’s aging facilities.”I am very respectful of the Paepckes and what they’ve done for this town,” she said. “I am happy to do whatever the institute wants me to do. The last thing I’d want to do is give them money and have everybody in town mad at me.”Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson confirmed that the suggestion came after he talked about the matter with others in the institute hierarchy, during discussions about plans to renovate the Paepcke Building and other facilities on the Institute campus.The Aspen Institute, which Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke founded in 1950, is a nonprofit think tank with a history of bringing together leaders and philosophers, politicians and industrialists, and a host of other world figures for seminars, study groups, discussions and public speeches.The work on the institute’s facilities is part of a long-range program that has included renovation of the Meadows dormitories and the Meadows conference center building in the past, as well as the construction years ago of a parking lot beneath the Meadows tennis courts. Resnick confirmed that she and her husband originally pledged $2.5 million to renovate the health club near the Meadows restaurant and conference center.The anticipated price grew from an initial estimate of $3 million to close to $5 million, the health club project was put on hold, and the Resnicks agreed to shift their gift to renovating the Paepcke Building and to raise the amount to $4 million.”She didn’t come pushing for it,” Isaacson said of the naming of the auditorium. “The idea was something that was decided in the executive committee, with the [daughters of the Paepckes] and a lot of other people.”He also said that the auditorium, which he has repeatedly stressed never had a formal name, is to be adorned with a plaque bearing the names of Lynda and Stewart Resnick. The building itself, he said, will continue to bear the Paepcke name, as it always has.Isaacson, Lynda Resnick and Aspen Institute Vice President Amy Margerum all differed with local jewelry designer Chris Walling, a member of the Institute’s Society of Fellows, who said Thursday that a number of institute trustees are unhappy over the naming issue. Margerum said she had received no phone calls from people upset over the naming.”We’ve tried to find out who [is opposed to the naming],” Resnick said. “If there are a lot of people who feel that way, I’d love to know about it.”Resnick wouldn’t discuss whether she and her husband would simply give up the naming plaque but go ahead with the donation if the issue does become divisive: “I don’t want to talk theoretically about this.”Pausing for a moment, she went on, “Everybody else gets a naming opportunity, and this was the biggest gift the institute has ever received. It isn’t like I want my name in neon everywhere. I mean, it’s going to be a small plaque, for God’s sake.”She urged anyone with opinions on the subject to call the institute and let officials there know their feelings.Institute Trustee Jim Calaway of Carbondale, a longtime board member, said the matter came before the board of trustees “at our meeting last week or the week before last,” and that there had been no objections.”Matter of fact, I think they gave Lynda Resnick a round of applause” in recognition of her donation, Calaway said.Calaway also said that it was the institute, not the Resnicks, who came up with the idea to name the auditorium.”I just respect people who are generous, like the Resnicks,” Calaway said. “I find it commendable, and do not find anything objectionable in it whatsoever.”John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com

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