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Mardak Donates $2.5 Million To VanderCook College

...to raise an equal amount from other donors, with all funds designated to help the college complete renovation of its performance center. The center, located on VanderCook’s campus at the Illinois Institute of Technology, will be the college’s first dedicated performance space in its 100-plus-year history.

“This opportunity is unprecedented in VanderCook’s history,” said Dr. Charles T. Menghini, president. “We will soon be embarking on raising the $2.5 million necessary in order to realize Mr. Mardak’s gift. Once we attain this goal, we will have an incredible space to continue our work in preparing music teachers.”

In announcing the challenge gift, Mardak noted that he chose VanderCook College of Music both because of its role in music education and because of his association with Menghini. Mardak is also close with Herman Knoll, a former longtime Hal Leonard employee, and George Quinlan, president of Quinlan & Fabish Music Company, one of the nation’s leading school music retailers and a longtime Hal Leonard supporter, both of whom are members of VanderCook’s Board of Trustees.

“VanderCook is the leader in the preparation of music teachers,” said Mardak. “And that allows my gift to go where it will do the most good. Over the years, my work at the Hal Leonard Corporation has been widely supported by those in music education, and I want to help music education continue to flourish. Hal Leonard has been, and still is, the leading publisher in the educational music market, and through this gift, I want to give back and say ‘thank you.’”

VanderCook currently leases two Mies van der Rohe buildings from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and has been renovating one of the buildings to serve as the college’s performance center. Phase one of the project, begun five years ago, includes classrooms, teaching studios, practice rooms, and storage areas. Approximately half of the 22,500-square-foot space has been renovated and is currently in use. The focal point of the project, however—the “Great Hall” that will be used for performances, concerts, and events—remains ahead, and is contingent upon the college successfully meeting Mardak’s challenge.

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