Rider University Announces $3 Million Gift from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation for Westminster Choir College

Westminster Choir College of Rider University has been awarded a $3 million gift from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation of Pittsburgh, Pa., to help support the construction of a $7.5 million new academic and performance building planned for the Westminster Choir College campus.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Westminster Choir College of Rider University has been awarded a $3 million gift from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation of Pittsburgh, Pa., to help support the construction of a $7.5 million new academic and performance building planned for the Westminster Choir College campus in Princeton, N.J. 

In recognition of the Hillman family’s longstanding commitment to Westminster, the College performance portion of the new building will be named The Hillman Performing Arts Center in honor of Westminster alumna Elsie Hillman.  It will be part of Marion Buckelew Cullen Hall, named for the philanthropist who has contributed a planned gift to Westminster and to the overall project.

“We are profoundly grateful to the Foundation and to our good friends, Elsie and Henry Hillman, for their generous support of this important project,” said Rider University President Mordechai Rozanski. “The construction of the new building will greatly enhance the Westminster Choir College campus by providing significantly better teaching, learning, and performance spaces for our students and faculty.  It also positions Westminster for continued success in the future.”

The building will contain a 3,000-square-foot performance and rehearsal hall supported by a large lobby, a green room and other guest amenities.  It will also include three flexibly configured classrooms that will accommodate a wide range of academic and choral uses.  It will be located beside The Playhouse, creating a new quadrangle and courtyard that will be a primary outdoor venue for Westminster student and alumni events.  An integrated connection to The Playhouse will provide improved access and audience amenities for that important performance and rehearsal facility.

Robert L. Annis, dean and director of Westminster Choir College, said, “This is one of the largest gifts in Westminster’s history.  We are grateful to Elsie and Henry Hillman for their vision and continued support of Westminster and its programs.  This is especially meaningful since Elsie Hillman is a member of the Talbott family, which helped found and nurture Westminster Choir College.”  Over the years, the Hillman family has been extraordinarily generous to Westminster Choir College, supporting projects that have included the Elsie Hilliard Hillman Chair for Artistic Direction, endowed scholarships and technology on campus.

When added to prior commitments, the Hillman gift brings the total raised for the project to approximately $4.2 million in current gifts and pledges. As the total anticipated cost for the building is $7.5 million, Westminster is seeking $3.3 million in additional gifts to complete the necessary funding. 

The University will present concepts for campus development, including this project, to the Regional Planning Board and is optimistic that the municipal review process and continued fundraising will be successful, allowing construction of the building to proceed on a timely basis.

A division of Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts, Westminster Choir College is a college of music and graduate school that prepares musicians for careers in education, sacred music and performance.  Westminster is the home of the world-renowned Westminster Symphonic Choir, which has performed and recorded with virtually all of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors.

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(left to right) Dean Robert L. Annis, Henry Hillman, Elsie Hillman and President Mordechai Rozanski