$8 Million Kenan Gift to Support Music Scholarships, Building

An $8 million gift from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust will create 16 full music scholarships for Carolina undergraduates and complete funding for a new music building, to be called the Kenan Music Building.

The gift, the largest ever received by an academic department in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, includes a $4 million endowment for Kenan Music Scholarships and $4 million for the building, now under construction on Columbia Street between Hanes Art Building and Abernethy Hall.

Chancellor James Moeser, a concert organist, described the trust’s gift as “transformative for music at Carolina.”

“The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust has long been a leading patron of the arts, through its support of the arts faculty, the department of dramatic art, the Carolina Performing Arts Endowment and now the department of music,” Moeser said. “Through a premier merit scholarship in music and the naming gift for the new music building, the trust not only ensures the continuing vitality of musical performance at Carolina but elevates and enhances the quality and reputation of the department of music and the University.

“In addition, the Kenan Music Building is the first phase – and centerpiece – of our planned Arts Common. Together with Memorial Hall, Gerrard and Old Playmakers, the Kenan Music Building moves us closer to our dreams for the future of the arts at Carolina.”

Carolina’s music department has seen substantial growth in recent years, though its facilities are more than 75 years old, lack adequate space and have poor acoustics. Herbert Hoover was president in 1930 when the music department moved to its current home in Hill Hall, built first as the University library. The number of music majors has tripled in the past decade to 250 students, and hundreds more attend class, practice and perform in the building each year.

“This gift represents the intersection of two very important interests the Kenan family has nurtured for generations: first, is a dedication to excellence at The University of North Carolina and; second, a love and appreciation for the fine arts, especially music,” said Richard Krasno, executive director of the Kenan Trust.

“It is our hope that the exceptional young women and men who will be recipients of the Kenan Music Scholarships will not only benefit from the extraordinary education they will receive at UNC, but that the UNC community at-large will benefit from their talent in our midst,” Krasno said.

While the trust has long supported faculty and facilities at Carolina, the scholarships represent its most generous gift directed to students. The first four scholarships will be awarded to students entering next fall, with four scholars to be named to each subsequent undergraduate class.

The Kenan Music Scholarships cover in-state tuition, student fees, room and board, and they provide a $6,000 allowance for study abroad, work with a particular performer, internships with elite music groups, attendance at music festivals and other musical events, and travel to audition for graduate school programs. Kenan music scholars will also benefit from faculty mentoring and peer counseling.

The trust’s gift also completes funding for the first of two building phases planned for the site. Costs for the first phase are estimated to be $31.4 million, with $19.8 million coming from the Higher Education Bond Referendum approved by voters in 2000, $7.6 million from University sources and $4 million from the Kenan Trust.

With a completion date in 2008, the Kenan Music Building will provide a space with proper acoustics now lacking in Hill Hall. Designed by architect Michael Dennis and Associates of Boston, the 100,000-square-foot building will feature a large instrumental rehearsal hall, 18 faculty studios for applied teaching, 100- and 45-seat classrooms, three piano studios, three ensemble rehearsal rooms, three practice rooms, a world music room, a digital theory laboratory, a recording studio and a percussion suite. The large rehearsal hall will accommodate practices for the University’s 300-member marching band.

The second phase, slated for construction when funding becomes available, will feature a 650-seat concert hall with a stage large enough to accommodate a full symphony orchestra, additional classrooms and piano practice rooms, as well as public space for the arts community.

The Kenan building will mark a major step forward in the University’s planned arts common, which aims to elevate the quality and reach of the arts on campus to the local community and across North Carolina.

“I couldn’t be more delighted with this remarkable gift from the Kenan Trust,” said Tim Carter, department chair and David G. Frey Distinguished Professor of music.

“It identifies two of our most pressing needs – outstanding facilities fit for music in the 21st century and support for the remarkable creative and academic talents of the best undergraduates wanting to study at Carolina. Moreover, the wholly innovative and unique Kenan Music Scholars Program will allow our most talented performers to combine practice and theory at the highest level, both within the semester and outside of it.”

The Kenan family’s ties to the University date to 1790, when James Kenan, a member of the University’s first Board of Trustees, contributed $25 to the construction of Old East, the first state university building in the nation. A member of the N.C. General Assembly, James Kenan helped draft and pass the University’s charter.

The various Kenan family philanthropies have given the University nearly $60 million during the Carolina First campaign. More than half of that total has been designated for the College of Arts and Sciences, the oldest and largest academic unit at Carolina.

Share via: