Officials at Abilene Christian University break ground for Williams Performing Arts Center

For Immediate Release
Oct. 13, 2000


Tom Craig, Director of Media and Community Relations
(915) 674-2692

Michelle Morris, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(915) 674-2586

ABILENE - Abilene Christian University officials broke ground Friday, Oct. 13, for a $16 million performing arts center to be named for Dallas civic leader J. McDonald Williams and his wife Judy.

The groundbreaking kicked off ACU's Homecoming activities. Construction is scheduled to begin later this fall, and the building should be available for students' use sometime in 2002.

"When the $16 million Williams Performing Arts Center is completed, it will provide music and theatre students and faculty one the finest learning facilities of its kind in the nation," said Dr. Royce Money, ACU president.

The Williamses donated more than $6 million to the university for the new 86,000-square-foot performing arts center, Money said.

Williams, a 1963 ACU graduate and a member of the ACU board, is chairman of Trammell Crow Company, a large, international real estate development company.

"Don and Judy have made a substantial gift to the performing arts center - not just because they are patrons of the arts, but primarily because they believe in ACU and its mission," Money said. "ACU has profoundly affected their lives and the lives of their family, and they see the influence it continues to have on thousands of students every year.

"Don and Judy, frankly, have some uneasiness about this facility bearing their names. Their style of philanthropy is to do good in quiet ways. Their goal is simply to be faithful stewards of the blessings they have received from God. Board members, though, felt this was an important way for them to express their appreciation for all the Williamses have done for ACU."

The Williams Performing Arts Center project is part of ACU's $100 million "To Lead and To Serve" campaign, which reaches completion Dec. 31.

The new building will be the second-largest building on campus and will be located east of Sikes Residence Hall and the Mabee Business Building facing Judge Ely Boulevard on the southeast corner of the ACU campus. Features will include:

  • a three-story, thrust-stage theatre that seats 300 (named in honor of Lewis and Jerelene Fulks,)
  • a 275-seat recital hall designed for choral and instrumental performances,
  • a flexible-space, multi-form theatre to allow students to creatively design and use the room (named in honor of Dr. James and Clara Culp,)
  • numerous soundproof practice rooms and faculty studios,
  • faculty offices and meeting rooms,
  • a piano lab,
  • large band and choral rehearsal halls,
  • dressing rooms,
  • a signature glass-enclosed lobby,
  • large, high-tech classrooms and computer lab,
  • music and choral libraries, and
  • a box office, sculpture garden and courtyard.

"The Williams Performing Arts Center will bring great benefits to the students and faculty of ACU," Money said. "The large band rehearsal hall will provide plenty of space for the Big Purple Band - with room to grow. Soundproof practice rooms will allow students and faculty to spend extra hours perfecting their music. And the beautiful, glassed-in lobby will be perfect for elegant dinners before award-winning dinner theatre performances."

Fulks Theatre honors Lewis Fulks, who directed sold-out ACU Homecoming Musicals for 30 years and ACU's 50th and 75th anniversary pageants.

The smaller multi-form Culp Theatre honors Dr. James Culp, an ACU English professor of 15 years who also taught at Texas Tech and Lipscomb University.

"The multiform - or black box - theatre will allow students to create their own dramatic environment for a variety of learning experiences," Money said. "And the 300-seat thrust-stage theatre and 275-seat recital hall will provide students and faculty the opportunity for outstanding performances with the best acoustics, sound systems and lighting available."

The architectural firm of record is The Tittle Luther Partnership of Abilene with Keating/Khang Architects of Santa Monica, Calif., acting as design consultants.

The building will be a cornerstone housing two flagship programs.

"At ACU, we believe Christians make a tremendous difference in the fields that relate directly to degrees and experience in music and theatre. And we also believe that Abilene Christian is in a unique position to provide the highest quality performing arts education available at any Christian university in the world," Money said. "The Williams Performing Arts Center moves ACU closer to the goal of serving as a national leader in Christian higher education. We're very grateful to Don and Judy Williams and to all the donors who are making the Williams Performing Arts Center a reality."

Both Don and Judy Williams earned their bachelor's degrees from ACU in 1963, and three of their five children attended ACU. He has served on ACU's Board of Trustees since 1981. Williams practiced law for seven years, then joined the Trammel Crow Company. He became chairman of Trammel Crow in 1994 after serving as managing partner from 1977-90 and president and CEO from 1990-94.

"Don and Judy are known for their church and community activities, including Don's extensive work to bring renewal to a low-income neighborhood in Dallas," Money said. In 1986, Williams was named ACU's Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. Judy is on the board of the Contact Counseling Center, has volunteered for the Suicide and Crisis Center, and participates in Bible Study Fellowship and Community Bible Study.

The Williamses attend Skillman Church of Christ in Dallas, where he serves as an elder.


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Last update: Oct. 13, 2000
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