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Renovated Performing Arts Center gets new name, increased support

  • President Thomas J. Haas and Marcia Haas
  • Rendering of the Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts.

Posted on July 21, 2017

The performing arts programs at Grand Valley State University will get a renovated home, an addition and a new name when the building is dedicated next month.

The Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts will be dedicated August 25 and named in honor of the president and first lady of Grand Valley. The former Performing Arts Center on the Allendale Campus has gone through an extensive renovation and will reopen in time for the fall semester.

President Haas and his wife, Marcia, said they created an endowment for the performing arts at Grand Valley because of their deep appreciation of the arts and the recognition of how their lives have been enriched by them and by the university.

“The time is now,” said Haas, who is beginning his 12th year as president of Grand Valley. “We have beautiful, new facilities, and Marcia and I want to invest in our students and their success. We want to improve the margin of excellence that becomes available with this gift.”

The couple feels blessed by the opportunities they have had and believe their gift will allow faculty to create enrichment activities that will enable students to reach even higher.

“We have had an affection for the performing arts dating back to when we played in the band, and I participated in dance and musical theater,” said Marcia Haas. “Our appreciation has continued to grow throughout our lives, as we have been exposed to all kinds of performances at all levels. We are fortunate to have many talented faculty and students. Their performances have touched us deeply, and we are so pleased to invest in the future of these wonderful programs.”

Additionally, the university is naming the Linn Maxwell Keller Black Box Theatre within the Haas Center in recognition of a gift from the Fred Keller family.

To honor the legacy of Fred’s late wife and dear second mother to their daughters, Lorissa MacAllister, Susan Whitman, and Christina Keller, the family is establishing an endowment for the Linn Maxwell Keller Professional Vocalist Experience Award. The award will provide domestic and international development opportunities to vocal students with exceptional talent who demonstrate a commitment to becoming professional vocalists.

“The Linn Maxwell Keller Black Box Theatre and professional vocalist experience award fully capture the essence of Linn’s legacy,” said Lorissa MacAllister. “We know Linn would be so delighted that she continues to inspire, challenge and support the advancement of truly talented and dedicated young vocalists.”

Thomas Haas said: “Marcia and I are honored to partner with the Keller family to invest in our students and their futures. Together we will provide unprecedented support for the performing arts at Grand Valley.”

The August 25 dedication ceremony for the $20-million project on the Allendale Campus will take place from 2-4 p.m. with formal remarks at 2:15 p.m. A separate dedication of the Linn Maxwell Keller Black Box Theatre and celebration of her legacy will be scheduled for October.

The two-story, 47,000-square-foot addition includes theater support spaces, two theater classrooms, three ensemble rooms, a new student study space and an enlarged study space in the primary lobby. The center was built in 1971 and houses Louis Armstrong Theatre.