October 30, 2000
Emory arts center (finally) breaks ground
By Michael Terrazas firstname.lastname@example.org
More than 80 years of anticipation are slowly but surely coming to an
end, as the Oct. 19 groundbreaking ceremony for the Schwartz Center for
the Performing Arts closed another chapter in the Universitys quest
for such a facility.
Virtually since Emory moved to Atlanta in 1919, there has been a campus
constituency calling for the construction of a performing arts center.
Judging by the turnout and exuberance of the crowd gathered next to Fishburne
Parking Deck for the groundbreaking, that passion for the arts has not
yielded an inch.
We have a standing-room only crowdisnt that a nice
sign for this occasion? said Brad Currey, chairman of the Board
of Trustees. Currey went on to say the event was a celebration of
art and beauty in our daily lives and gave Emory a chance to pay
a richly deserved tribute to Donna and Marvin Schwartz.
Donna Schwartz, a 1962 graduate of Emory College, and her husband Marvin
donated $8 million for the $36 million facility, which is scheduled for
completion in the summer of 2002. Residents of New York, the Schwartzes
have a daughter, Elizabeth, who graduated from Emory in 1997.
But it was their youngest child, 14-year-old Charles, whose memories
of Oct. 17 may last the longest, as both his parents and some top Emory
administrators relished in putting him on the spot to follow in his mothers
and sisters educational footsteps.
If he does, Charles Schwartz will be one of the first generations of
Emory students able to enjoy performing arts events in a truly world-class
facility. The 98,000-square-foot center will house an 825-seat concert
hall, 150-seat studio spaces for both dance and theater, along with numerous
classrooms, practice spaces and administrative offices for Emorys
This is a great day of preposterous happiness, said Rosemary
Magee, senior associate dean of Emory College, quoting C.S. Lewis in her
remarks. Magee, along with Randy Fullerton of theater studies, helped
lead the fundraising effort that is building the Schwartz Center from
the ground up. Magee paid tribute to colleagues across many University
departments and divisions for contributing to the project.
We cant overstate our gratitude, Dean Steve Sanderson
said both to the Schwartzes and the people Magee praised. This will
be not just a museum to the performing arts, but a lively center for performing
arts, serving students during the day and the larger community at night.
In introducing President Bill Chace, Currey recalled that Chace promised
the campus a performing arts center in his inaugural address six years
ago. Im reasonably certain he had no earthly idea how it was
going to happen, Currey joked.
But it happened, and Chace wasted no time in framing the event for what
This is a momentous occasion in the life of Emory University,
Chace said to the Schwartzes. Its hard to describe the joy
youve brought us. Youve made beautiful music together, and
youve aligned us even more closely with the divine chords of the
Donna Schwartz said she was overwhelmed with the comments.
Many decisions in my life Ive given a great deal of thought
to, she said. Before making decisions, I tend to think things
over carefully. This was one decision that was effortless.
Her husband echoed those comments and made a further pledge: Marvin Schwartz invited Will Ransom, Emerson Professor of Piano and Emory pianist-in-residence, to test out Donnas three Steinway pianos and select one for the new concert hall. He also announced he would buy four seats through the centers seat-naming fundraising drive and name them for two of Donnas favorite former professors, Chappell White and Thomas Brumbaugh, and for the Schwartz children.