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U.Va. gifted $50 million for new performing arts center

The new building will be located in the Emmett-Ivy corridor and provide a space for concerts, dance, theater and interdisciplinary art forms

<p>Before the announcement of the gift, University President Jim Ryan introduced third-year College student Ada Zhang, who performed a violin piece titled “The Ader Anthem.”&nbsp;</p>

Before the announcement of the gift, University President Jim Ryan introduced third-year College student Ada Zhang, who performed a violin piece titled “The Ader Anthem.” 

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The Advancement Committee of the Board of Visitors announced a $50 million donation from Tessa Ader that will support the construction of a new arts center in a meeting held Friday morning in the Rotunda. 

Before the gift’s announcement, University President Jim Ryan introduced third-year College student Ada Zhang, who performed a violin piece titled “The Ader Anthem” during the meeting. The piece was composed specifically for the announcement of the donation by Daniel Sender, associate professor of music and concertmaster of the Charlottesville Symphony.

Ader is an honorary member of the advisory board for the Fralin Museum of Art and created the Richard M. and Tessa G. Ader Endowed Fund for Music Education at the Charlottesville Symphony in memory of her late husband in December.

“Mrs. Ader’s gift will honestly transform art at U.Va. by providing a home for concerts, dance, theater and interdisciplinary art forms in one of the most visible locations on Grounds,” Ryan said.

The design process for the building is expected to begin later this year. The building will feature a concert hall that seats more than 1,000 people, a 150-seat recital hall, spaces for experimental art and rehearsal studios, and will be located on the Emmet-Ivy corridor. Old Cabell Hall’s auditorium currently has a capacity of 851 people.

“We see the performing arts center as a chance to not only benefit the U.Va. community but to benefit the entire broader Charlottesville community by welcoming performances from national and international artists and hosting learning experiences for students, alumni and all community members,” Ryan said.

Vice Provost for the Arts Jody Kielbasa spoke to the powers of the arts and his excitement and gratitude for the donation. 

“I could not be more excited for this announcement,” Kielbasa said. “I know how personally grateful I am, but I also know what this can do for our students and faculty and the entire community here. It will be transformative to the landscape of the arts.” 

The Advancement Committee also voted to confirm the Board of Visitors representatives to different governing boards of University-affiliated organizations and provided a fundraising and campaign progress report.

The University exceeded its $500 million fundraising goal for the fiscal year 2021-2022 with commitments totaling $507.6 million, a 1.5 percent increase from the original $500 million goal. Through June 30, philanthropic cash flow for the fiscal year was $428 million — the first time the University has ever surpassed $400 million in cash for any single fiscal year. 

Cindy Fredrick, senior associate vice president for engagement, provided an overview of the Office for Engagement’s transition to virtual programming during the pandemic. The office hosted 800 events between March 2020 and June 2021. It also saw a 163 percent increase in registrations. 

“We are beginning to gather again, in person, with new safety protocols in place, and we will continue reaching out to where our alumni, parents and friends live and continue our virtual engagement,” Fredrick said. 

The committee also gave an update on bicentennial matching funds. The Bicentennial Scholars Fund was established December 2016 and provided a one-to-two ratio match for new endowed undergraduate scholarships that were established with gifts of at least $100,000 dollars. As of Aug. 25, the University has raised $312.5 million in commitments and pledges

for bicentennial scholarships.

Ryan then announced an additional $50 million in matching funds for gifts to Bicentennial Scholarships, which will be drawn from the Strategic Investment Fund “over several years,” according to Ryan. 

“We wanted to boost giving to the University Achievement Award and to the Blue Ridge scholarships, both of which have been incredibly helpful in recruiting students who add to the diversity of the class and the excellence of the class,” Ryan said. “And we wanted to raise the visibility of the programs as well so we went to a one-to-one match for gifts for either one of those scholarships [which has] proven very successful.” 

Ryan highlighted increasing visibility of these opportunities as a priority in an interview with The Cavalier Daily before the Board meeting. The University Achievement Award covers all tuition and fees and is awarded to students from Virginia who demonstrate “outstanding leadership and character while overcoming personal hardship.” The Blue Ridge scholarships range from $1,000 to $7,000 dollars per student per year, and are awarded to students with “exceptional academic promise and significant financial need.”