LAWRENCE — The Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation, of Kansas City, Mo., has made a $1 million leadership gift to renovate Swarthout Recital Hall at the University of Kansas. Since 1957, Swarthout has served as the primary recital venue for generations of KU music students. After nearly 60 years of heavy use, the hall needs renovation and technological upgrades.
With this gift in place, a total of $2.3 million has been raised for the project. The KU School of Music and KU Endowment are working with alumni and friends to raise the remaining amount of private funding needed to meet the $2.5 million project budget.
“The Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation is pleased to take the lead in supporting the renovation of the University of Kansas School of Music’s Swarthout Recital Hall. Swarthout represents a time-honored tradition of excellence for the School of Music and the university. Revitalization and restoration of this wonderful, intimate venue is yet another milestone in the pursuit of nationally and internationally acclaimed distinction,” said Julia Irene Kauffman, chairman and CEO of the foundation. “We are proud to be a catalyst for progress to help drive the School of Music to new heights with this grant and to bring a renewed and regenerated excitement and synergy to the students, faculty and the community.”
Other major gifts were made by Barbara Nordling, of Lawrence; Tom and Judy Bowser, of Olathe; Dave and Gunda Hiebert, of Lawrence, and through the estate of Frances Peterson, who lived in Cedar Hill, Texas.
Planned improvements include renovation of the stage, lighting and acoustics; new seating for the audience; an accessible entryway for ADA seating; and audio/video and telecommunications equipment. The project’s budget includes the purchase of two new Steinway D grand pianos to be used exclusively in the renovated hall.
“We are honored that the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation has chosen to partner with us in this ongoing cause by so generously supporting a reconceived recital hall on the university campus, providing future generations of students the ability to pursue their dreams of a life centered in music,” said School of Music Dean Robert Walzel. “KU has a long history of commitment to music education and service within the arts community.”
Walzel said he hopes to have funding in place soon so that construction can begin at the end of the spring semester.
Swarthout Recital Hall, which seats 350 people, is located in Murphy Hall. It was named for Donald Swarthout, who served as KU’s dean of Fine Arts from 1923 to 1950. Nationally known for his work, Swarthout also served as president of the Music Teachers National Association and directed the KU Concert and Chamber Series, which became the foundation of the arts programming for the Lied Center of Kansas.
The gift counts toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.
The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.