MSU trustee, spouse pledge $1 million gift for new music building

Contact: Bob Thomas, University Development, (517) 353-3121, Ext. 411; or Deb Pozega Osburn, University Relations, (517) 355-2281

Sep 13, 2002

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State University Board of Trustees today accepted a pledge of $1 million from Trustee Dolores Cook and her husband, Byron Cook, for the construction of a new School of Music Building on the MSU campus.

The Cook gift will be invested in a music building endowment fund while the university secures additional contributions from private and public partners.

"It is gratifying that Dee and Byron Cook have stepped forward to make the cornerstone gift for a new music building," said MSU President Peter McPherson. "As we launch the largest capital campaign in Michigan State University history, we can be proud that one of our board members is willing to lead the effort with a personal commitment of this magnitude.

"We are confident that this gift will inspire other individuals to consider a similar gift to the music building endowment fund," McPherson said.

"Byron and I have always been strong supporters of the music program," Cook said. "It is recognized throughout the United States and in many parts of the world as a leading professional training ground for composers, music educators, music therapists and performers. The facilities should reflect the quality of the School of Music faculty and students."

The MSU School of Music faculty includes more than 70 resident artists and scholars and 65 graduate assistants who work with 600 music majors and 2,000 non-majors each year. In recent years, the university has made significant investments in the music program by hiring nationally and internationally known artists, including world-class musicians from the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

"We recognize that, in order to retain our excellent faculty and attract other artists to study and teach at Michigan State, we need to address the music facilities," Byron Cook said. "The program has outgrown its current space. Dee and I agreed to adopt this priority as our capital campaign project."

"We are still in the early planning stages for a new building," said Lou Anna K. Simon, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "This generous gift allows us to move on to the next step, particularly in light of the inclusion of the building in the capital campaign."

Simon said a new building site has not yet been selected. One leading consideration is to locate the building southeast of Giltner Hall, thus creating a fine arts district on campus with the new School of Music Building, the MSU Auditorium and Fairchild Theatre, the Department of Art and Art History, the Department of Theatre and the Kresge Art Museum in close proximity.

The School of Music provides support to the 300-member Spartan Marching Band. The growing Community Music School offers weekly instruction for more than 1,600 enrolled students and has developed ensembles of national reputation such as the MSU Children's Choir. In addition, the program provides significant and high-quality outreach through the presentation of more than 350 concerts on campus and throughout Michigan by ensemble bands and choral groups.

Byron and Dee Cook have been generous contributors to MSU throughout their lifetimes. This newest gift commitment qualifies them for recognition in the prestigious Frank S. Kedzie Society, which is reserved for donors to Michigan State University whose contributions total between $1 million and $5 million. Trustee Cook is a graduate of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, and Byron Cook is a graduate of MSU's College of Natural Science and the University of Michigan Law School.