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For immediate release
Dec. 17, 2002

Abilene Christian University's newly constructed Williams Performing Arts Center will officially open its doors Saturday, Jan. 18, with a Grand Opening celebration and special room dedication events.

The public dedication will begin at 2 p.m. and will be followed by special room dedications and programs, including performances by various music groups in each room.

Dedications and premiere performances in each of the three major facilities in the center - the recital hall, Fulks Theatre and Culp Theatre - will take place throughout the spring semester.

"The Williams Performing Arts Center will provide music and theatre students and faculty one of the finest learning facilities of its kind in the nation," said Dr. Royce Money, ACU president.

The $17 million Williams Performing Arts Center project was funded as a part of ACU's "To Lead and To Serve" campaign, which reached $114 million.

"It's a beautiful building designed to be very functional for our daily music activities," said Dr. Paul Piersall, chair of the Department of Music.

Two theatres in the Williams Center were named for Dr. and Mrs. James Culp of Benton, Ky., and Dr. and Mrs. Lewis Fulks of Abilene.

Fulks Theatre, a 325-seat theatre, was named after a former ACU professor who directed sold-out ACU Homecoming Musicals for 30 years and ACU's 50th and 75th anniversary pageants.

Fulks joined the ACU faculty in 1949 and, except for a three-year leave of absence, taught at the university 42 years before his retirement after the 1990-91 school year. A graduate of ACU, he received a master's degree in drama from the University of Southern California and an honorary doctorate from ACU. ACU's theatre program received national acclaim for excellence during his tenure, and Fulks established the Southwest's first collegiate dinner theatre program.

A smaller multi-form theatre, Culp Theatre, was named in honor of an ACU English professor of 15 years who also taught at Texas Tech and Lipscomb University.

Culp, also a graduate of Abilene Christian, taught English at ACU from 1959-67 and again from 1986-92. He also taught at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., from 1950-52 and at Texas Tech from 1967-85. Culp received master's and Ph.D. degrees from Vanderbilt University and served as president of the Texas College English Association.

The new Williams Performing Arts Center provides 92,000 square feet of classroom, performance and practice facilities for ACU's departments of music and theatre. In addition to the Fulks and Culp Theatres, it also includes a recital hall, signature lobby area, dressing rooms, faculty and administrative offices, faculty studios, choral and instrumental rehearsal halls, and a music library.

"The sacrifices that have been made to build this facility are humbling to us. We are truly grateful for the many, many people who have honored the arts as vital to the fabric of this university," said Adam Hester, chair of the Department of Theatre. "In doing this they have also expressed the importance of artists who are Christians and given our work a significance that speaks loudly to our culture."

The Williams Performing Arts Center is named for the Williams family: Judith Alguire Williams, J. McDonald Williams, Bryce and Leigh Williams, Brandon and Stephanie Williams, Russ and Carrie Williams, Victor and Victoria Williams and Susan and Brandon Hoag. J. McDonald Williams is a member of ACU's board of trustees, and the family was the major donor for the building.

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

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If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Wendy Kilmer, university news coordinator.

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Last Update: December 17, 2007
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