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Northwestern receives $6 million gift for new Bienen and Communication building

The Robert W. Galvin Foundation donated $6 million to the University for construction of the new building for the Bienen School of Music and the School of Communication. In recognition of the gift, the University will name the building's recital hall in honor of Mary B. Galvin (Comminication '45).

Courtesy of University Relations

The Robert W. Galvin Foundation donated $6 million to the University for construction of the new building for the Bienen School of Music and the School of Communication. In recognition of the gift, the University will name the building's recital hall in honor of Mary B. Galvin (Comminication '45).

Jillian Sandler, Campus Editor

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A significant alumnus gift for the new Bienen School of Music and School of Communication building currently under construction south of Pick-Staiger Concert Hall has given the building’s recital hall a new name.

The Robert W. Galvin Foundation made a $6 million donation to the new building, confirmed in late December by  Chris Galvin (Weinberg ’73, Kellogg ’77), chairman and CEO of Motorola and a member of Northwestern’s Board of Trustees and the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Kellogg School of Management. In honor of the gift, the University will name the recital hall the Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall in honor of Chris Galvin’s mother.

Bienen dean Toni-Marie Montgomery said in a University press release that Mary Galvin (Communication ’45) co-founded the Stradivari Society, which supplied string instruments to world-class musicians. Montgomery said in the release this “makes the naming of this venue particularly meaningful.”

Chris Galvin said in the release that Mary Galvin also worked on the boards of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera and the Joffrey Ballet.

“The entire Galvin family is pleased to honor our mother and grandmother for her passionate contributions to the arts throughout the world over the past five decades and to support Northwestern’s outstanding music and communication programs,” Chris Galvin said in the release.

The recital hall will feature a stage Montgomery said will accommodate at least 18 musicians for solo performances and chamber music concerts. It will also feature a glass window along the back wall of the stage, which will look out onto both Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.

“There’s no other recital hall or concert hall … that will look out onto a lake and also a city,” Montgomery said. “I really do see this as the signature piece of our new building because when anyone looks at the photo … they’ll know immediately it’s the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University.”

The Galvin family has a longstanding relationship with NU. According to the release, Mary Galvin’s husband, Robert W. Galvin, the former chairman and CEO of Motorola who died in 2011, received an honorary degree in 1992. Mary Galvin’s nephew, two daughters-in-law and three of her grandsons also received degrees from various schools within the University.

Montgomery said the building, on which construction started last June, has been in the works for about a decade. In addition to providing “acoustically sound spaces” for music classes, she said, it will be a vehicle for uniting Bienen, which currently spans from the Music Administration Building to Regenstein Hall, and providing a central location for the arts.

“This is a long-awaited dream of so many people, including our alumni, and is a huge cause of celebration for our school, but also for the campus because I see the arts circle as being the front porch to the University,” Montgomery said.

According to the release, the project will also feature an arts green that will be located west of the building. Montgomery said this, along with the facility, will attract students and faculty members.

“They can then come to this area and hopefully come inside our building to listen to some good music,” she added.

Construction on the five-story building is expected to be complete in fall 2015, the release said.

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About the Writer
Jillian Sandler, Development and Recruitment Editor
Early applications to Northwestern continue to rise, as other peer institutions look to early action to diversify the applicants. But Northwestern administrators say they won't be switching from early decision any time soon.