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A facility worth the wait

By Myles Brand, President of Indiana University


On any college campus, it is sometimes hard to focus much further than the end of the semester or of the academic year. But building and maintaining a great university requires a much longer-term view. Sometimes, projects that are recognized as a good idea today take years, even decades, to complete. When they are done, we celebrate.

Such an event will occur Jan. 18, when we dedicate the new Theatre and Drama Center and the Marcellus Neal and Frances Marshall Black Culture Center. This long-sought facility will fill two widely recognized needs on our Bloomington campus.

At the October 1998 groundbreaking, former chair of theatre and drama R. Keith Michael recalled writing a report about the departmentís need for new facilities back in the 1970s. Similarly, our university has needed a place to bring together our African-American cultural programs for many years.

However, identifying a need and finding resources to meet it are two quite different things. Fortunately, dedicated advocates found generous donors willing to help provide our share of matching funds. Then, local legislators worked with their colleagues from around the state to secure state money.

This new facility will prove to be worth the wait. For our Department of Theatre and Drama, it will provide impressive, indeed breathtaking, performance space. Thatís important not just for students who appear on those stages, but for those who work and learn behind the scenes. The opening of this center will enhance our ability to educate the next generation of theater scholars and artists.

The Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center will stand as a symbol of solidarity and pride for all African Americans on our campus, indeed for every member of the IU community. We are a diverse community and stronger as a result. The Neal-Marshall Center will celebrate that diversity and will enhance the experience of all of our students.

I am particularly pleased that Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee will take part in the dedication ceremonies. Stage legends and civil rights activists, they personify the commitment to theatrical excellence and equal opportunity that this building will embody. They also know all about years of dedication and hard work.

When we celebrate the opening of this new home of learning, performance and culture, we will celebrate the fact that IU has been blessed with many friends and supporters who also show the necessary patience, determination and long-term vision.

Whatís on your mind? E-mail President Brand at:

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Publication date: December 7, 2001
Copyright 2000, The Trustees of Indiana University