SOURCE: Sam Houston State University

August 20, 2010 17:30 ET

New Performing Arts Center at Sam Houston State Named in Honor of Retiring President and Spouse

HUNTSVILLE, TX--(Marketwire - August 20, 2010) -  The board of regents of the Texas State University System announced today the naming of Sam Houston State University's new performing arts center in honor of out-going president James Gaertner and his wife Nancy.

Gaertner officially retires August 31. He was hired in 2001 as the twelfth president in the university's 131-year history.

Speaking on behalf of the board, Regent Trisha Pollard of Bellaire, said, "When the board considered the question of naming this magnificent performing arts center this summer, it was clear that it should be named in honor of Jim and Nancy Gaertner because they have done so much for this university and community over the last nine years.

President Gaertner said the honor was the capstone of their service to Sam Houston.

"Serving as president of this great university has been a privilege and joy in and of itself," said Gaertner. "Rarely do people have the good fortune for both joy and privilege to intersect as they have for Nancy and me here. But having our names associated with this splendid new performing arts center is perhaps the greatest honor of our professional lives.

"I believe our new concert hall is the equal to the best in Texas. I can't wait for students and the community to experience performances here."

The concert hall seats 800. A state-of-the-art dance theater seats 160 and a separate recital hall seats 175.

The center encompasses more than 100,000 square feet, cost $38.5 million to build, and includes practice studios for theater, dance and music, faculty offices, set design and building spaces, costume design and wardroom facilities.

It also features seven installations of "public art" -- sculpture, mosaics, and murals -- especially commissioned for the center, including a hanging sculpture by James Surls, an internationally known artist who is also an alumnus of Sam Houston State.

The theaters will feature several performances throughout the year -- by students, faculty and professionals -- including a concert by the Houston Symphony Orchestra on October 29 and performances by the Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, featuring repertory by Dominic Walsh and Jiri Kylian on October 29 and 30.

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