BOWLING GREEN - Arts programs at Bowling Green State University received a big boost yesterday when two long-time patrons of the university's school of art made what officials called a "much-needed" contribution.
Frederic and Mary Wolfe, of Perrysburg, yesterday gave the university $1.5 million to help fund an arts building that will now be known as the Wolfe Center for the Arts.
Once built, the center will house all classrooms, studios, and faculty space for the university's theatre and film department, including three theaters. It also will house the choral and opera departments from the university's college of musical arts, and the digital art program from the school of art.
"The state can't do a building like this without having private contributions," Mrs. Wolfe said.
The Wolfe's gift is the largest private donation in the history of the college of arts and sciences, according to Don Nieman, dean of the college.
"It's huge how important this is. Gifts like this are imperative for the arts," said Ron Shields, chairman of the university's department of theatre and film, noting that his department has seen enrollment double over the past decade.
The university has yet to secure complete funding for the $11.7 million project, though they already have been awarded an $8.7 million capital grant from the state to build the complex.
"We're in the very early stages of raising funds for it," said Marcia Sloan Latta, BGSU's director of development and associate vice president for advancement, who noted that an addition $1.4 million would be needed.
Mrs. Wolfe shed tears when speaking of her history with the university's school of art, where she was both a student and a teacher. She received a master's degree in fine arts from BGSU in 1968, later taught full and part time as an art history instructor, and was director of the university's McFall Center Gallery.
For the past 25 years, the Wolfes also have made annual contributions to the school of art, Ms. Sloan Latta said.
BGSU President Sidney A. Ribeau noted in his State of the University address yesterday that private support for the university has seen a steady rise in recent years, from $5.2 million for the three-year window of 1997-1999 to $10.6 million for the period of 2000-2002, to $12.5 million for the 2003-2005 three-year period.