March 25, 2009 — Hunter J. Smith, who with her husband, the late Carl W. Smith, gave the University of Virginia $1.5 million in 2003 to help fund the Cavalier Marching Band, is pledging $10.7 million for construction of a rehearsal hall for the University's band and music programs, President John T. Casteen III announced today.
The Smiths are among the University's most generous supporters and have a long history of giving to the University, including its schools of Architecture, Law, Medicine and Business; the Children's Medical Center; historic preservation; the Jefferson Scholars Program; athletics; and the University's College at Wise.
In 1997, they contributed $23 million for the expansion of U.Va.'s Scott Stadium and $2 million for construction of a new football stadium at the College at Wise. The area encompassing Scott Stadium and the Aquatic and Fitness Center is named the Carl Smith Center.
Carl Smith, a native of Wise, graduated from the University in 1951 with a degree in economics and was a guard on the Cavaliers' championship football team from 1948 through 1950. A Charlottesville businessman who founded and led his own business until his death in 2005, Smith was a member of the University's Board of Visitors and a two-term trustee of the Darden School.
Hunter Smith, who is making the pledge through the Hunter Smith Family Foundation, is well known for her enthusiasm for the marching band – and for her desire to enhance the game-day experience at U.Va. athletic events.
"One of Carl's and my favorite things was being a part of helping to create the marching band," she said. "We were so pleased at the fantastic job the University did in getting the band up and running – including the hiring of band director Bill Pease, in designing the uniforms and in recruiting top-notch students. It all happened so quickly and so well."
The University's band program is part of the McIntire Department of Music. It includes a basketball band, concert band and wind ensemble, in addition to the Cavalier Marching Band, which debuted in September 2004 in Scott Stadium.
Now, almost five years later, Mrs. Smith said that she believes the band program has surpassed all expectations and has earned a first-class practice venue of its own. "I am pleased to be able to help make that happen," she added.
"Hunter Smith is carrying on Carl's legacy of thoughtful philanthropy – giving that reflects her passion as well as institutional needs," Casteen said. "Hunter's continued leadership and interest in the development of the band program will benefit not only generations of music students here at the University, but also thousands of loyal University supporters. We are once again indebted to her for her generosity and her creativity."
The building, which Mrs. Smith described as a "wonderful, light-filled space," will begin construction by January 2010 and is expected to be completed by the summer of 2011. It will be located on the University's Arts Common on Culbreth Road across from Ruffin Hall, the new studio art building.
The rehearsal hall will be approximately 12,900 square feet, comprising a 4,000-square-foot rehearsal room, offices, a small library and changing rooms, as well as space for both instrument and uniform storage. It is being designed by William Rawn Associates of Boston.
When the University embarked on an ambitious $3 billion fund-raising campaign in September 2006, one of its priorities was to provide a student experience unmatched on any American campus. "Hunter's gift is a clear reflection of that priority," Casteen said.
As of Feb. 28, 2009, the Campaign for the University of Virginia, which will conclude on Dec. 31, 2011, had reached $1.87 billion.