CORVALLIS, Ore. – Building on a decade of investment in the arts, Oregon State University leaders announced plans today for a new arts and education complex on the Corvallis campus. The initiative will expand and enhance the existing LaSells Stewart Center, bringing together music, theater, digital communications programs and the visual arts to form a center of creativity infused with science and technology.
The lead gift of $25 million comes from an anonymous donor and launches an effort to raise an additional $5 million in gifts for the project. With $30 million in private support, the university will seek future approvals for $30 million in state bonds, providing a total of $60 million for the arts and education complex.
“This is a watershed investment in our university,” said OSU President Ed Ray. “The arts drive the culture of creativity, innovation and diversity that is essential to a thriving research environment. I believe with all my heart that a relationship with the arts is integral to the human experience. In addition to enhancing our strengths in the sciences, this initiative will enrich the education and life preparation of all our students. We owe a boundless debt of gratitude to this generous donor.”
Expected to open in 2022, the OSU arts and education complex will feature performance spaces including a new concert hall and a revitalized auditorium as well as a smaller black box theater that can be configured in multiple ways for performing and teaching. The facility also will contain classrooms designed for a media-rich environment; practice rooms and spaces for choir, symphony and band rehearsal; shop space equipped for work with sound, lights, animation and video; faculty offices and seminar rooms.
“The arts and education complex is the next major step for OSU’s development as one of America’s great land grant universities,” said Larry Rodgers, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “At OSU we are especially interested in how art intersects with science, humanities and technology. This facility will build on these connections, transforming the way our students and our community learn, perform, innovate and communicate.”
“I am certain this new complex will join other iconic facilities that stand as testaments to the lasting impact of philanthropy on our campus – Valley Library, Austin Hall, Reser Stadium,” said Mike Goodwin, president and CEO of the OSU Foundation.
Goodwin noted that a turning point took place in early 2013 when a donor made a $5 million challenge gift to advance OSU’s performing arts programs. By the end of the year, 26 individuals, families and organizations had made gifts of at least $25,000 each. These philanthropic commitments and others resulted in more than $8 million to support scholarships, faculty, facilities, equipment and other programs in OSU’s School of Arts & Communication. This momentum in support of OSU arts programs continues to grow. In fact, over the last two years, donors have nearly doubled the amount of scholarships available for vocal music students.
Opened in 1981, the current LaSells Stewart Center has over 1,660 event bookings annually, attracting more than 150,000 attendees for academic and research conferences and cultural offerings. The Stewart Center’s 1,200-seat Austin Auditorium is often sold out for campus and community musical performances and presentations.