From IWU Magazine, Winter 2014-15 edition

Renewing a Treasure

Campaign to complete Presser Hall renovations is launched.


Presser Hall
Presser Hall.
For more than 85 years Presser Hall has been the home to music at Illinois Wesleyan. The last major renovation to Presser came in 1970 following a devastating fire. Over the course of the intervening years, little changed until 2009 when a gift from Coyner ’54 and Donna Smith provided funds to begin the much-needed renewal of Presser’s public spaces and the venerable Westbrook Auditorium — but more needs to be done.


“We are deeply grateful to Coyner and Donna Smith for their generous and ongoing support of our students and in their leadership gifts for the campaign to renew Presser Hall,” said Mario Pelusi, director of the School of Music.

Phase two of the campaign, which is part of the Sesquicentennial celebration, focuses on renewing the more than 40 rehearsal and practice rooms of Presser Hall and the adjoining Alice Millar Center. This project includes much-needed replacement of practice room pianos and the main performance grand piano.

“Coyner knows from his time as a student that the classroom for music students is where they practice and rehearse,” said Provost and Dean of the Faculty Jonathan Green, who also is professor of music and choral director. “This makes renewing these areas so important to attracting and training music students now and in the future, and we are exceedingly fortunate that Coyner and Donna Smith have once again stepped forward with a leadership gift to continue the renewal of Presser Hall.” 

The campaign seeks to raise $750,000, which includes a matching gift of $250,000 from the Smiths.

Giving opportunities include:

$1,000 for seat sponsorships in the 550 seats in Westbrook Auditorium, with funds going toward  renewal of practice rooms

• $20,000 - $35,000 for remodeling one of the practice rooms, including a new Boston or Steinway piano

• $12,000 for a new practice room Boston piano

• $100,000 to remodel the Percussion Suite

• $150,000 to remodel the Choir Rehearsal Room

• $150,000 for a new concert grand piano

• $2,500 for an annual school of music scholarship, or $50,000 for an endowed scholarship

The campaign will also begin raising funds to refurbish Westbrook Auditorium’s Schantz pipe organ, installed in the early 1960s. The total cost of this multi-year project is projected to be $600,000.  

Make a gift.

Click here to return to the main story.