Named after Ninetta May Runnals (Dean of Women from 1920 to 1949), the Runnals building is located on the south end of campus near the Foss residence hall and is home to the Department of Performance, Theater & Dance. This magnificent building was built in 1939 and housed sorority meeting rooms and the women’s gymnasium for about thirty five years. In 1976 the building was remodeled and Strider Theater was constructed where the gymnasium once stood. In 1984, the Performing Arts Program (now Theater & Dance) was founded with a course of study including a sixteen course, interdisciplinary major. The founding of the Performing Arts Program coincided with the end of fraternities and sororities on campus so Runnals Union became the Runnals Performing Arts Center. At this time the sorority meeting rooms became offices and classrooms for a growing academic program in the performing arts.
Today, Runnals is primarily used by the Department of Performance, Theater & Dance and houses offices, classrooms, production shops, Strider Theater (named in honor of Robert E. L. Strider II — Colby President from 1960 to 1979), the Cellar Theater, the Smith Acting and Directing Studio, and the Dunn Dance Studio. Each year over 5000 people, from students enrolled in classes to patrons of our shows, come through the front doors of this special building to participate in the magic that is theater and dance.