sealPurdue News

April 16, 2002

Couple's $770,000 gift sets stage for new theater at Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Gordon Mallett's name appears on three science degrees from Purdue University, but soon he and his wife will share a marquee on a theater in the university's new $38 million visual and performing arts building.

The Carole and Gordon Mallett Theatre will seat 120-160 people in various arrangements and also will double as a classroom space where students in Purdue's Department of Visual and Performing Arts' acting, directing, and design and technology programs can experiment and learn their disciplines.

Mallett, of Zionsville, Ind., a retired Eli Lilly and Co. quality assurance director, studied the sciences while at Purdue, earning a 1956 doctorate in microbiology. His wife, Carole, is a retired school administrator who took undergraduate courses at Purdue before earning her bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Bradley and Northern Illinois universities. Throughout their careers, the couple has supported the arts at Purdue and in their community, where she is active on behalf of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and serves on the board of directors of the American Pianists Association in Indianapolis. She also is a member of the American Symphony Orchestra League Volunteer Council in New York City, N.Y.

Margaret M. Rowe, vice provost and dean of the Purdue School of Liberal Arts, said the theater was named for the Malletts to thank them for their ongoing contributions to the visual and performing arts building campaign as members of the national steering committee and as donors.

"Dr. and Mrs. Mallett have said they know how the arts benefit the local community by helping attract companies that employ skilled, highly paid professionals," Rowe said.

The Malletts have pledged an outright and deferred gift of $770,000 for the building project and have invested countless hours, the dean said.

Gordon Mallett explained their dedication.

"Both of us had great careers, and the training we got at Purdue was a wonderful foundation, but the arts have generously enriched our lives," he said. "Theater, museums, the symphony – they add special value to your life; they enrich the way you think and feel. In addition, the arts expand your horizons through the people you meet who are fellow lovers of the arts.

"We feel that supporting and stimulating Purdue's arts program is a marvelous way to expand and extend the joy of living for the scientists, engineers, economists and all of the others who study and work at Purdue. We hope that they won't just attend a performance or exhibit in the visual and performing arts building, but will actually participate as well."

Construction on the building – located at the east end of the Agriculture Mall on the block bounded by Marsteller, Wood and Sheetz streets – began last summer. The building will house Purdue's theater, art and design, music, and dance academic programs under one roof.

David Sigman, head of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, said the building's academic and administrative spaces for the art and design and dance divisions are targeted for occupation by May 2003. Theater and music divisions and the art education program will be completed later.

The 8,000 Purdue students annually enrolled in visual and performing arts classes will begin meeting in their new four-story, 166,700-square-foot building in fall 2003. The World War II-era "temporary" structures in which the art and design division currently has classes will be taken down to make way for a $45 million, 125,000-square-foot home to the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, School of Materials Engineering and services and programs for engineering students.

"This visual and performing arts facility is the largest building under way at Purdue; no other building in the state will house this diversity of the arts," said Sigman. "I know people will appreciate what Purdue has done – the excitement it has placed under one roof."

The university already has $27.75 million committed and is continuing to seek contributions toward the remaining $11 million needed to complete theater areas in the building.

The state appropriated $20.75 million for the building in the spring of 1999, and the university pledged an additional $5 million for the project. An estimated $2 million has been raised toward the $13 million in private funding needed to complete the building's spaces for a proscenium theater, scene shop and costume shop for theater and music programs.

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts has approximately 800 undergraduate majors and 60 graduate students. It was established in 1966 and is currently composed of four divisions: art and design, dance, music, and theater. It grants liberal arts undergraduate degrees and master of arts, master of fine arts and doctoral degrees. It also serves other departments and schools through elective course offerings.

Writers: Grant A. Flora, (765) 494-2073,

Laura Barlament, (765) 494-2027,

Sources: Margaret Rowe, (765) 494-3661,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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