New Center Named for Jim and Joyce Faulkner

Jim and Joyce Faulkner
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Jim and Joyce Faulkner

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The new performing arts center at the University of Arkansas — a planned renovation of the Old Field House — will be named the Jim and Joyce Faulkner Performing Arts Center in honor of the couple’s $6 million gift to the project.

The University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees approved the naming today.

“The Faulkners are passionate about Arkansas and about the U of A,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “It’s fitting that this building — one in which Jim spent so much time during his undergraduate years—will bear the Faulkners’ names, and will reflect their advocacy of education and the performing arts.  Jim and Joyce are Arkansas treasures whose legacy will be a prominent part of this university for decades to come.”  

The center is planned to offer seating for more than 650. Musical groups to perform in the new facility will include the University Symphony Orchestra, Concert Band, Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, Schola Cantorum, Concert Choir and Master Chorale. Theatrical performances will be staged by the University Opera, Music Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre and Boars Head Summer Theatre. The facility will also host the popular Summer Chamber Music Festival as well as provide space for public lectures, such as the recent appearance by President Bill Clinton, who delivered the inaugural presentation in the Dale and Betty Bumpers Lecture Series.

“This performance venue, with its unique acoustical environment, will provide the performance lab space that is vital to help our students develop critical listening skills,” said Robin Roberts, dean of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. “Due to its excellent balance of direct and reflected sounds, this space will provide a completely different listening environment from any of the existing rehearsal halls on campus. Currently, our large music ensembles have no adequate concert space on campus, meaning they also lack sufficient rehearsal time in the off-campus spaces in which they perform. Because of this new space, our students will be able to experiment and refine their performances — training that is imperative for those pursuing careers in music.”

The Faulkners are long-time supporters of the university. In 2011, they led the effort to purchase new uniforms for the Razorback Band by offering to match others’ gifts. The challenge was met and exceeded in a matter of weeks. They have funded Chancellor’s Scholarships in several fields of study and were involved in the restoration of Old Main. The Faulkners are A-plus Life members of the Arkansas Alumni Association and are recognized as Towers of Old Main, a cumulative giving society of the university. All five of their children attended the University of Arkansas, and they expect to have more Razorbacks in their family as their grandchildren grow up.

The Old Field House was dedicated in February 1938 and was part of a building boom that occurred on campus in the 1930s, thanks to the federal Public Works Administration. The construction of a performing arts center will involve renovation of the interior space, and the building’s exterior will be preserved.

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