Over the past couple of years, Washburn has been constantly improving.
From adding new buildings to remodeling old ones, the university has taken every opportunity to make the campus better than it was before. Recently, Washburn announced plans for yet another improvement, thanks to the generous donation of Topeka philanthropist James Van Sickle.
Music has been an active part of Van Sickle’s life since he began playing the clarinet in his elementary school band. He continued playing throughout his life, leading him to play at Ottawa University, the University of Kansas and the Corpus Christi Navy Band.
Van Sickle, a member of the Washburn University Foundation Board of Trustees since 2000, donated $1 million to be put toward a new recital hall on campus.
“The recital hall can be used for student recitals and performances with a smaller audience. White Concert Hall is a great facility, but is designed for 1,200 people. The recital hall will be perfect for around 300. The exact number of seats has not been determined,” said Washburn University Foundation Director of Communications Kathy Busch.
Van Sickle’s donation will allow for the university to hire an architect and begin the design process, as well as develop an estimated budget for the project. However, there is no set date or time frame in which this is planned to begin at the moment.
The new recital hall will not only be put to use by Washburn, but will serve the Topeka community as well.
“It will also be used for community partners who come to campus, such as the Topeka Symphony Orchestra,” said Busch.
Van Sickle has been a member of the Topeka Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors since 1988. He believes that music is a very important part of our community, and that there are not enough places where community musicians are able to practice and perform which is what prompted him to make the contribution.
This addition will provide a space with better acoustics than that of a larger concert hall, as well as a smaller and more intimate viewing space for performances.
There are still many questions about the new recital hall that cannot be answered at this time as the project is still in the early stages of planning.
“The university is very fortunate to have Mr. Van Sickle as a long-time supporter of music and the performing arts.We truly appreciate his generosity through the years,” said Busch.