A $2 million donation from the Elizabeth E. Kennedy Fund will allow the University to construct a lower lobby in Hill Auditorium, which began renovations in May.
The money will go toward the construction and furnishing of the lobby, which does not presently exist in Hill. The lobby will be named for Kennedy and built beneath the current one.
“The lobby will be a gathering place for people before and after concerts and during intermission,” said Ken Fischer, president of the University Musical Society. “The creation of a lobby in her name will enhance the patrons’ experience.”
The Kennedys have always been supportive of UMS, said John Dobson, secretary of the Elizabeth E. Kennedy fund.
“Elizabeth had her own great interest in the musical society and music at Michigan,” Dobson said.
“What Elizabeth Kennedy is essentially saying is ‘I grew up in this town, I love this town, and as I’m in the twilight of my life, I want people to be able to enjoy that place more,'” Fischer said.
For the School of Music, the new lobby will mean a place to have special events related to its concerts, as well as to provide a green room for performers, said Karen Wolff, dean of the School of Music.
“In addition, we hope we will be able to place items from the Stearns Collection of musical instruments in cases in the lobby,” Wolff said.
Hill Auditorium is one of the only performance halls of its kind where patrons cannot even get a cup of coffee, Fischer said.
“She’s adding some patron amenities that have been grossly inadequate at Hill for years,” said Fisher.
“The University is just deeply grateful because this is a project that we didn’t know if it would happen and this gift truly make the space possible,” said Mathwon Howard, associate regional director of major and planned gifts and the development officer working with the Kennedy Fund. “It’s just going to be an awesome experience for the patrons.”