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Carleton Announces Weitz Family Foundation Pledge Towards Arts Union

February 15, 2010

Northfield, Minn.–– Carleton College has announced that the family of Wally (’70), Barbara (’70), Katie (’96), Roger (’99), and Drew (’02) Weitz and their spouses Watie White (’93), Kate, and Meredith (’02) has pledged $15 million towards the completion of the College’s Arts Union project, located at the site of the former Northfield middle school.

The $15 million gift is part of the Weitz Family Foundation’s challenge to Carleton’s Board of Trustees. The challenge pledges the $15 million gift to Carleton if board of trustee members contribute $85 million collectively (including the Weitz’ initial $10 million gift that launched the campaign) towards Carleton’s Breaking Barriers, Creating Connections stated campaign goal of $300 million. Currently, board of trustee members have pledged $83 million towards the $85 million goal.

Once the trustee challenge is completed by Carleton’s board, triggering the additional $15 million gift, the Weitz family would become the largest single, family donor in College history at $25 million. Barbara and Wally serve as the campaign’s co-chairs, and Wally has been a member of Carleton’s board since 2000. 

“Our family of Carleton alums has watched with growing enthusiasm as the Arts Union plans have evolved and as faculty excitement has grown,” said Wally, on behalf of the Weitz family.  “New ideas for using visual arts and digital technologies to enhance teaching have run far ahead of Carleton’s facilities.  The students deserve a place like the Arts Union, and we think it’s time to ‘just build it!’”

When the trustee challenge is met and the College raises the needed additional gifts, the project could break ground as early as the fall of 2010. The new design, projected to cost $42 million, will house the departments of Theater and Dance, and Cinema and Media Studies. The Carleton Art Gallery, conceived as a teaching museum and gallery, will also be part of the facility. The Arts Union will also include a dramatic theater, a cinema theater, dance studios, an audio recording studio, a number of faculty offices, many classrooms that can be used by any of the College’s disciplines, art studios, a large meeting and conference room, and a coffee shop and gathering space. The building will also be home to the Presentation Events and Production Support (PEPS) office and the Idea Lab, a shared, interdisciplinary laboratory for exploring and learning with digital resources and technologies, especially those that involve imagery, video and audio.

In his announcement to the campus of this extraordinary gift, President Robert A. Oden Jr. said:  “It will require many years and multiple occasions for us properly to thank the Weitz family for their inspiring support for Carleton and, now and especially, for enabling us to move forward swiftly to construct the Arts Union.  For years now I have argued that creativity and inventiveness are the key educational currencies of the 21st century; on many levels, for numerous academic disciplines, the Arts Union moves Carleton forward in realizing our dream of shaping a consciously creative campus. That dream becomes soon a waking reality because of the signal generosity of Barbara and Wally Weitz and their family.”