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Missouri Couple Gives $10 Million to Support New Music Building at MU, Largest Gift Ever to Support the Arts at Mizzou

Gift will help improve facilities for fine arts performance, instruction at Mizzou

April 10th, 2015

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, residents of Westphalia, Missouri, have given a $10 million gift to the University of Missouri to help fund the proposed new School of Music building. Through the generous gift, which is the largest gift ever to MU to support the fine arts, the Sinquefields will help begin the fundraising efforts for the new School of Music building. The proposed site for the new building is the northeast corner of Hitt Street and University Avenue on the MU campus. The new School of Music building is a part of a larger project that will include the renovation of the Fine Arts Building in order also to improve facilities for the MU theater and art departments.

VIDEO: University of Missouri Fine Arts Improvement Project
This video is available for broadcast quality download and re-use. For more information, contact Nathan Hurst:

The Sinquefields are long-time supporters of music and the arts, specifically music composition. The Sinquefields’ support for composition at Mizzou began more than ten years ago with the Creating Original Music Project, a statewide K-12 competition and affiliated high school summer camp. In 2009, they gave MU $1 million to create the Mizzou New Music Initiative. This initiative is comprised of an array of programs including the Sinquefield Composition Prize, which is MU’s highest honor for a student composer. These programs expanded university scholarships, ensembles, and faculty support, and created an international composer festival at MU.  In 2013, the Sinquefields gave an additional $1.4 million to continue these programs. This new gift, along with previous gifts to other areas around campus, brings the Sinquefields’ total giving to MU to more than $13 million. Jeanne Sinquefield says she hopes this latest gift will improve the facilities for composers as well as all musicians at Mizzou.

“We want Mizzou to become an international mecca for music composition,” Sinquefield said. “Currently the School of Music is spread out in five different buildings across the entire campus. By giving the School its own facility, we can not only take a large step in positioning MU as a leader in music composition, but also help to create opportunities for the School to become a leader in music performance and education as well.”

VIDEO: Sinquefield Charitable Foundation donates $10 million for new music building at Mizzou

This video is available for broadcast quality download and re-use. For more information, contact Nathan Hurst:

Currently, the MU School of Music uses classroom, studio, rehearsal and office space in five different buildings, including the Fine Arts Building, the Fine Arts Annex, Loeb Hall, Stewart Hall and McKee Hall. The new building will house all School of Music activities under one roof and also will open space across campus for use by other schools and colleges. Advancement officials from MU and the College of Arts and Science are currently in the initial fundraising phase for the project, which includes a new School of Music building and a renovation of the Fine Arts Building, which is estimated to cost approximately $74 million to complete. Construction is projected to begin in 2016.

“The Fine Arts Building currently houses the three units: the School of Music and the departments of theater and art,” said Michael O’Brien, dean of the College of Arts and Science. “In order to continue to attract the best students and faculty, one of MU’s top priorities is the construction of a dedicated School of Music building and the renovation of the Fine Arts Building. Once completed, this project will facilitate continued enrollment growth, enable more students to explore the fine arts at Mizzou, attract outstanding students and faculty and enhance the aesthetics of our already beautiful campus. The generosity of the Sinquefields will carry us a long way toward this goal.”

Tom Hiles, vice chancellor of advancement at MU, hopes to receive state funds matching the Sinquefields’ gift and other private gifts to help support the project. Plans for the renovation of the Fine Arts Building will improve and increase the size of the facilities for the theater and art departments, as they will share the entire building once the School of Music moves to the new building.

Overall project highlights include a new recital hall for the School of Music, renovations to the Rhynsburger Theatre, and an expansion of the Bingham Gallery. Julia Gaines, the director of the MU School of Music, says this gift and the fine arts renovation project will not only raise MU’s stature in music composition, but also across the board in fine arts.

“The idea of having the entire School of Music in one building is a dream come true–a dream that has been talked about for decades,” Gaines said. “I can’t even begin to express how exciting this is for the MU music faculty, staff, and students. We’ve had a glass ceiling over us for many years because of our facility limitations. This gift will allow us to grow in so many ways, and we are more than ready for the opportunity.”

“The Sinquefields’ gift will further advance the MU School of Music as a recognized leader in music composition nationally and internationally,” MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said. “The Sinquefields have found a meaningful way to advance their passion for musical composition and performance, and the university community thanks them for their generosity and for their leadership in supporting the arts at MU and in Missouri.”

Jeanne Cairns Sinquefield has a long history of supporting organizations that enhance music, art and education. She believes strongly that exposure to the arts and quality learning opportunities have lifelong benefits for children. Her passion for music is personal. She plays string bass in two mid-Missouri symphonies, the Columbia Civic Symphony Orchestra and the Folk String Orchestra. The late past UM President Gordon Lamb named her one of the “Missouri 100” for promoting the University’s missions of excellence in teaching, world-class research, and service through scientific discovery. She is serving as a member of the Campaign Cabinet for MU’s current comprehensive fundraising campaign and also served as a member of MU’s For All We Call Mizzou campaign steering committee, which raised $1 billion for scholarships, professorships, programs and new buildings at MU.