(left) and Carl Smith, longtime benefactors to the University.
Smiths give $23.5 million for the
and Hunter Smith have been investing in the University of Virginia
for many of the 45 years they have lived in Charlottesville -
and always with an eye toward furthering the University's goals
Thursday, through a combination of personal pledges and foundation
commitments, the Smiths pledged $22 million to the University
toward a $47 million performing arts center and $1.5 million to
endow a student marching and concert band.
said he and his wife were drawn to the performing arts center
project for many of the same reasons they got involved in the
expansion of the University's football stadium more than six years
the stadium was enlarged, thousands of people -- many of them
from the community -- who seldom see a U.Va. football game were
able to enjoy the sport in one of the most beautiful college venues
in the country," said Smith, a 1951 graduate of the University's
College of Arts
& Sciences. "We see the performing arts center as
a place so visible and so accessible that, like the stadium, it
will be a bridge to the community."
Smiths envision the center as the cornerstone of the Arts Grounds,
a planned ensemble of new and expanded facilities for the University's
arts programs. Completion of the new building will also be a major
step toward fulfilling the University's aspirations to enhance
the study and performance of the arts at U.Va. and to build on
an increasingly vibrant music department. "It is our intent
that the University will have one of the finest performing arts
facilities in the country," Smith said.
gifts have special significance to University President
John T. Casteen III, who in 1998 launched an initiative to make
the arts one of the University's recognized strengths. He said
the performing arts center will be the linchpin in that initiative.
"Hunter and Carl Smith continue to amaze and surprise us,"
he said in announcing the gifts. "They always have been thoughtful
in assessing the University's needs and its long-term aspirations,
and looking to see where they can best help us realize our goals.
Their extraordinary generosity will leave an indelible mark on
University life for generations to come."
is the Smiths' hope that the performing arts center also will
help recruit top student scholars in the arts and will create
new opportunities and visibility for the music and drama departments.
"The implications of the center on music programs at the
University are significant," Mrs. Smith said. "It creates
new opportunities for students and new visibility for the department."
Hudson, chair of the music
department, speaks with enthusiasm about what the new center
will do for both the faculty and students in her department. "It
will have an impact at just about every level," she said,
"and it should prove to be an outstanding recruiting tool.
But more than that, it says that music is important at the University
idea for a performing arts center began to take shape several
years ago during the University's long-term planning process known
as Virginia 2020. The goals emerging from the planning effort
called for ensuring that the arts hold a prominent place in the
student experience, for expanding the cultural resources of the
community and for creating an environment in which the arts can
100,000-square-foot center will be built on the corner of Massie
Road and Emmet Street near University Hall and the site of a new
basketball arena/special events center, scheduled for completion
in 2006. The location affords ready access to parking, and it
will be linked via the new Groundswalk, currently under construction,
to other facilities on the Arts Grounds and to Central Grounds.
The building will house a concert hall of at least 1,200 seats;
instructional and performance spaces, including a "black
box" theater; rehearsal, storage and office space for the
marching and concert band; music department offices and performance
construction is expected to begin by Dec. 31, 2004, the design
phase, including selection of the architect, will proceed within
the next few months.
of the marching and concert band, a joint venture between the
music and athletics departments, has a more ambitious time line,
with plans for the band to have its football debut in the fall
make that a reality, Hudson intends to add an experienced band
director to the performance faculty as soon as possible. The director's
first job will be to field a band of some 200 strong.
fall, even before discussions of a gift from the Smith family,
music department faculty expressed support for the establishment
of a band as a means of enhancing performance opportunities for
students and attracting talented musicians to the University.
University is the only school in the Atlantic Coast Conference
that does not have a marching band. Hudson has sought guidance
of her counterparts at Virginia Tech, the University of North
Carolina and the University of Maryland, some of whom believe
that U.Va. has the potential to become one of the top bands in
the country within five to 10 years.
Smith, both a patron of the arts and a loyal football fan, said,
"A marching band will be a great addition to the game-day
experience at U.Va. It's going to be very exciting."
K. Littlepage, director of athletics,
also called the band a wonderful addition. "The introduction
of a first-class marching and concert band goes hand-in-hand with
the department's goal to be top ranked in all of its programs."
the years, the Smiths have supported University endeavors in architecture,
law, medicine, business, the Children's Medical Center, the Jefferson
Scholars program and athletics.
1997, they pledged $25 million, then the largest single monetary
gift in the University's history, toward the expansion of Scott
Stadium and for construction of a football stadium at the University's
College at Wise in
Southwest Virginia. The area encompassing Scott Stadium was later
named the Carl Smith Center in honor of Smith, a former scholarship
football player for Virginia.
founder of AMVEST Corp., an international company specializing
in coal mining, natural gas production and finance, Smith is making
these gifts through a combination of personal pledges and commitments
from the Carl W. Smith donor-advised fund of The Community Foundation
Serving Richmond & Central Virginia.