March 1, 2020

When I arrived at Westminster nearly 2 years ago, President Steve Morgan mentioned fundraising efforts for a new performing arts addition that were well underway. There was still considerable money left to be raised, and when I started as President, the project, in my mind, hadn’t yet captured the imagination of the campus.

And yet it seemed to me that it should. As I told our Board of Trustees a little over a year ago, artistic expression, creativity, and performance are essential to everything Westminster. We are that place where the liberal arts come alive, where students are exposed to ideas and people that challenge them, where we encourage the freedom to think, the wisdom to know, and the aptitude to act. Participation in performing arts teaches us empathy and helps us reclaim a common humanity.

All people, at some point in their lives, seek identity, community, and purpose. Our college brings that journey to life, not just for music, theatre, or dance majors, but also for the countless students that try a new instrument, learn a new script, or sing alongside staff or alumni, and also for all of us who are challenged to hear new stories, connect movement and creation, and experience the power of music. Gillmor Hall will elevate our facilities to match the talents of our students and the impact of their performances.

The last expansion of our performing arts facilities on campus was in 2004. Since then, we have added a dance program, doubled our music enrollment to 60 students, surpassed our theatre enrollment capacity, and added talented faculty in all of these areas. The new building will include a 100-seat recital hall, dance and performance studios, choir and theatre rehearsal rooms, and individual and group music teaching and practice studios. A grand lobby will increase our ability to hold art shows and receptions, and a new construction shop and costume studio will support our performing arts productions.

This ceremony showcases our progress and commitment to this vision of the performing arts. It’s an occasion to recognize the students, faculty, staff, friends, trustees, and all who have given so generously to bring Florence J. Gillmor Hall to Westminster’s campus. This fully funded expansion is being accomplished through private donations, including a $1.3M endowment to ensure we can operate the facility to its capacity for years to come. In fact, Gillmor Hall is the first major building project at Westminster to be realized in a decade.

This groundbreaking gives us the opportunity to publicly acknowledge some of the many generous contributors to this project, including:

The Emma Eccles Jones Foundation. Thank you to Katie Eccles, a Trustee of the foundation board, and Clark Giles, a Westminster Trustee and Trustee of the foundation’s board.

The Fenton Family Foundation. Thank you to Joan and Tim Fenton, their son Matt Fenton, a current Westminster undergraduate, and Foundation representative Lisa Cluff.

The George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, including board member Bob Graham.

The Dell Loy Hansen Family Foundation. Thank you to Keri Hansen Hale, a Westminster alumna and her family for joining us today.

Michael and Andrea Dumke Manship. Both are graduates of Westminster, and Andrea serves on Westminster’s Board of Trustees.

The McCarthey Family Foundation.

Bing and Judy Fang, who are unable to join today.

And finally, the Florence J. Gillmor Foundation. We would like to thank the directors of the board with us today: Ray Etcheverry, Bob Graham, Fran Wikstrom and James Lee. Thank you for your leadership and generosity, and for providing the challenge match last May to complete funding of Gillmor Hall. The Gillmor Foundation’s impact on our campus goes beyond this facility, and includes years of support for student scholarships, faculty programming, instruments, and summer workshops.

I like to think that Florence Gillmor would be proud. From what I’ve learned about her, Florence was a force of—and in—nature. She was strong and firm in her beliefs, connected to the land and a lover of wildlife. She saw beauty there, and in music. Like our students today, her interests were varied, her impact great, and her passion for vocal performance sustained throughout her life.

Although I didn’t get the chance to meet her, she did become a friend of our Gillmor School of Music’s chair, Chris Quinn, whose work continues to advance her legacy. Thank you, Chris, for your dedication and commitment to pursuing the realization of this facility.