$25 Million Pledge To Help Move Art And Theatre Departments Downtown

COLUMBUS, Ga. With approval Wednesday (8/7) from the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, Columbus State University can now fulfill a long-held dream of moving its art and theatre departments to Uptown Columbus.

A record gift of $25 million to Columbus State half of which is pledged to the uptown project will assist the university in its plans to create a complete fine and performing arts campus in Uptown Columbus.

The gift from the Bradley-Turner Foundation is by far the largest the university has ever received. It also ranks as one of the most significant to any University System of Georgia institution.

We are truly honored and humbled by the actions of the foundation and the Board of Regents, both of which have displayed tremendous faith in the future of this institution and the future of the community we serve, said Columbus State University President Frank Brown. Completing an uptown arts campus in Columbus will forever change the shape of this town and of this university.

Brown said one reason the board agreed to CSUs request to move art and theatre downtown is because the university has been good stewards in handling the last move, the relocation of the Schwob School of Music to Uptown Columbus. Issues such as transportation, connectivity with campus and area impact all detailed by Regents as things to keep an eye on have been handled well, Brown said.

Having the Schwob School of Music in the RiverCenter has promoted the Uptown renaissance, added hundreds of students, faculty and staff to the area on a daily basis and spurred further loft apartment development in the area, he said. Even now more student loft apartments are being added in the Rankin and Ogelthorpe buildings and in the fall, more than 100 CSU students will live and study in Uptown.

Further proof of the music schools success is the fall enrollment figures. Applications to the program have more than doubled since it moved into world-class facilities that can accommodate more students.

A similar jump in applications is already being seen in the art and theater departments, Brown said. With more and better facilities, that trend can continue and enrollment wont be capped because of space limitations.

The $25 million investment will pay for only part of the uptown campus plans; the rest of the money is set aside for continued enhancement of programs on the CSU main campus.

The donation was announced today (8/8/02) as the lead gift to a long-term capital campaign for the university that is being led by Jimmy Yancey, CSU alumnus and chief operating officer of Synovus Financial Corp.

Details of the campaign will be announced in coming months, but Yancey said the $25 million pledge is a ringing endorsement of what CSU has accomplished since it was founded as a community college in 1958. It is also a strong endorsement of the universitys future, especially the relocation of CSUs art and theater programs to create an expanded cultural center in Uptown Columbus.

As we develop the blueprint for the next phase of Columbus State University, this investment will help us continue the amazing renaissance we are experiencing in Uptown Columbus, Yancey said. This is just another example of how CSU is committed to being a catalyst for further improving the quality of life in the Columbus region.

CSUs record of partnering with the community has been well recognized.

There is no finer example of partnership and collaboration than this project, said Thomas C. Meredith, chancellor of the University System of Georgia. It is one of the best examples in the United States of higher education and a community joining together to serve students and impact economic development.

Previous important donations have been instrumental in the growth of the university as the state continues to pay for less and less. A record of successful partnerships with the community, and the universitys growth and success from private support, were important steps leading to this record donation, Brown said.

We have made a tremendous impact on Uptown, first with CSUs Coca-Cola Space Science Center, then with the Rankin building home of the Rankin Arts Center and the student loft apartments and most recently with the Schwob School of Music inside the RiverCenter, Brown said. With this gift, we can complete a world-class arts campus that will forever change the look and feel of Columbus.

Added Yancey: Just imagine what 400-500 students and more than 100 faculty living and working in Uptown Columbus will mean to the community and the region. We are truly experiencing a Columbus renaissance.