Dec 13, 2021

FVCC Names On-Campus Theatre in Honor of Long-time Faculty Member

Flathead Valley Community College is naming the theatre in the Arts and Technology building the Joe Legate Black Box Theatre in honor of long-time Performing Arts Department Chair Joe Legate. Legate recently retired after 30 years at FVCC and played a foundational role in building the theatre program and developing support for its participants.

“Joe’s enthusiasm for theatre impacted thousands of students and community members and shaped the FVCC theatre program into what it is today. Joe’s creativity and focus on helping students succeed were instrumental in the many achievements of our theatre students. I am pleased we are recognizing Joe for his many achievements and for his impact on our students and the community,” says FVCC President Jane Karas.

Throughout his tenure, Legate created the theatre curriculum, formed the Mask and Hammer Theatre Club, and developed the FVCC summer theatre program and FVCC Community Players. His continuous outreach and promotion of the theatre has led to community support of FVCC students and numerous theatre productions.

“Joe was instrumental in establishing a number of student scholarships through his close ties with those who supported the FVCC theatre,” says former Executive Director of the FVCC Foundation Colleen Unterreiner. “The foundation partnered with Joe and the theatre program on many activities to benefit students and community members. We are so pleased he is being honored with this naming.”

Through Legate’s leadership, theatre activities went from performances in temporary pop-up spaces with a few students to the now dedicated theatre space and multifaceted support of the current program.

“For 16 years, Joe made theatre happen by building the stage, the seating, the set, in classroom spaces around campus. We’re talking sliding ceiling tiles around to hang lights, moving in platforms for the whole set, and then swiftly whisking everything away before class time Monday morning,” says Rich Haptonstall, FVCC Associate Professor, Theatre/Music.

The program evolved immensely under Legate’s watch, which he credits to the tremendous support from FVCC and the Flathead Valley community. “The gracious support from everyone over the years has allowed the theatre program to make a meaningful impact on our students and community. The beautiful theatre space was a dream come true and will continue to provide a fun, vibrant place for anyone and everyone,” Legate says.

Legate’s legacy is preserved through inspired students like those of Mask and Hammer, through peers like Haptonstall, through the literal theatre walls, stage and sets, and now the name on the front door.

Legate concludes, “I’m forever fortunate to have spent the majority of my career at FVCC, and help create a welcoming, accepting and fun environment. It’s been extraordinary.”

For more information about the latest FVCC theatre productions or to get involved, visit