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Archive for Saturday, July 2, 2005

Lied expansion scrapped

KU misses deadline to match grant

July 2, 2005

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Kansas University officials have shelved plans to build an addition to the Lied Center.

KU couldn't raise the $7.5 million necessary to receive another $7.5 million challenge grant by Friday's deadline.

"It's somewhat of a disappointment," said Tim Van Leer, director of the performing arts center. "But we knew going in this would be a significant challenge, that it could take a long time to do and it was coming on the heels of the university's most successful fundraising drive in history."

The challenge grant, announced in February, would have come from the Lied Foundation of Las Vegas, which donated $10 million to build the existing Lied Center. Dale Seuferling, president of the KU Endowment Association, said about $2 million was raised.

The expansion would have created an 800-seat auditorium to provide a more intimate setting for chamber music, lectures and School of Fine Arts performances than does the current 2,000-seat auditorium. The expansion also would have included a 9,000-square-foot art gallery, sculpture garden and an education center.

Instead of donating $7.5 million to the Lied Center, the foundation now plans to donate $5 million to a scholarship program, Seuferling said. The details of the scholarship program haven't been worked out, he said.

Other donors who pledged money for the expansion will be given the option of applying their money to other KU projects or withdrawing their pledges entirely, Seuferling said.

Seuferling said he couldn't comment on why such a fast timeline had been established for matching the challenge grant amount. Christina Hixon, the foundation's lone trustee, refuses to speak to the media.

"We all realized it was an aggressive time frame," Seuferling said. "It's a significant sum, and it proved too much to raise for this project."

Van Leer said he wouldn't rule out an expansion in the future, though he doesn't plan fundraising any time soon.

"I don't think we'd ever scrap it entirely," he said. "It's something we'll always keep around, if we find a donor."

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