Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord!

At the beginning of this semester, Eastern shared the exciting news that the music department became the recipient of a $100,000 grant from the Presser Foundation “for its dedication to projects that will improve and enhance the University’s music programs,” (Eastern). The grant is a part of Eastern’s $11 million “Expanding the Humanities at Eastern University” project that looks to expand Eastern’s facilities and increase philanthropic funding, similar to the multiple grants that were given to the Student Government Association’s Food Pantry project mentioned in the previous issue. The project looks to “fortify Eastern’s efforts to update academic facilities and provide physical spaces that intersect with learning and growth,” (Eastern). With this new grant, Eastern is now 60% complete with the campaign goals to start the renovations this year.
According to the short bio on Eastern’s website, the Presser Foundation “provides philanthropic support for music and music education” and “works to fund the musical arts in their many dimensions and manifestations, while striving to serve a broad and diverse community of musicians, educators, and music lovers.” It is based in Center City Philadelphia and focuses most of its outreach for those within a 75-mile radius of its base.
This particular grant from the Presser Foundation will be put towards the ongoing renovations in Fowler Hall and Workman Hall for the Music Department and Templeton Honors College. These expansions will allow for new possibilities through “performance spaces, music practice rooms, a reception hall, and an art gallery,” (Eastern). With the growth in the Music Department from the newly launched Pep Band and continued theatrical and musical achievement of Eastern’s theater department, the new spaces will certainly be put to use and continue to help provide growth in Eastern’s academic community.
“I am so thankful for the generous grant from The Presser Foundation, which reinforces their pledge to the Arts. The grant will be a strong contribution to the development initiative for our Workman Hall/Fowler Hall renovation. This project will provide support for the expansion of our Music Department at Eastern University,” Dr. Steven Ford said in a statement on Eastern’s website.
“It has long been recognized that God made humanity to know the true, do the good, make and enjoy the beautiful, and worship the holy. Eastern’s emphasis on ‘faith, reason, and justice’ references three of those, however that fourth element that contributes to individual and social flourishing — the beautiful — is missing from our triad. The art gallery within Templeton Hall aims to foreground the visual arts in a new way at Eastern, and it will be situated next to a new recital hall for the performing arts. Together, these two spaces will enable our community to engage God and the world through the arts, to enjoy the refreshing delight hat the arts can uniquely bring to our weary souls, and to pursue the true, good, beautiful, and holy in a new way,” Dr. Brian Williams, Dean of the Templeton Honors College and College of Arts and Humanities, said.
“The expansion of Workman Hall will make Eastern’s music facilities just as incredible as its students and faculty. New practice rooms will provide more opportunities for students to improve and hone their craft, while the gallery and performance spaces create new potential for enjoyment and appreciation of the arts. I am personally looking forward to the new practice rooms because I will be able to play saxophone at any time,” Joe Walsh, a freshman music education major, said.
“I’m really excited to have an expansion of our music space that also coincides with a dedicated space for the Templeton program. This isn’t meant in an isolating sense– I hope that all Eastern students will come visit the art exhibits. What I mean is that it’ll be great to have another dedicated space for the arts on our campus; just like HHC is associated with the Humanities, Andrews is the science building, and McInnis is generally known for housing the math and nursing majors, expanding Workman hall and adding the Templeton space will create another space dedicated to the arts at our university,” Thea Dietze, a sophomore psychology major and member of the Templeton Honors College, said.
As Dietze said, the hope for expanding these arts programs and buildings is not just for the benefit of students under that discipline. We hope that these new expansions will provide opportunities for everyone and bring our community closer together.
“The new gallery will host rotating exhibits that provide students easy access to wonderful works of art, which is a good in itself, but many of these shows will also complement the academic programs and communal activities Eastern students are engaged in. Imagine exhibits that depict nursing through the ages, or 18th-century portraits of American founders, or an exhibit of athletes, or works created by students in our Prison Education Program, or one related to seasons in the church year like Advent or Lent. In these ways, we hope the new art gallery and Templeton Hall in general will enrich the campus experience of every student at Eastern for many generations to come,” Dr. Williams said.
With all of this in mind, there is plenty to be excited about for the upcoming changes to Eastern’s campus. The recent gift from the Presser Foundation is one more step towards our final goal, and we look forward to seeing the dreams of everyone in the Eastern community and its supporters come to life!

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