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Director of Development
Hancher Auditorium
UI Foundation News
500 Levitt Center for University Advancement
Iowa City IA 52242
Phone: (319) 335-3305 or (800) 648-6973

Release: Dec. 13, 2002

Wilson gift to boost Hancher Auditorium's endowment for educational programs

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Janice and Herb Wilson of Iowa City have made a generous gift to the University of Iowa Foundation to create an endowed fund to support Hancher Auditorium's educational programming.

The Janice A. and Herbert A. Wilson Arts Education Fund will support the Hancher Stage Door series, artist-in-residence activities and Iowa Communications Network (ICN) broadcasts, which provide arts exposure and education to thousands of grade K-12 students in Iowa each year.

"Janice and I are both committed to education, and the arts sometimes do not get the support they deserve in the schools," Herbert Wilson said. "We feel it's hard to learn to appreciate the arts without early exposure, and Hancher's strong and far-reaching education programs have touched many Iowa students."

Each season, Hancher's Stage Door series offers five or six matinee performances by Hancher artists at minimal cost to the 700 to 1,500 students from surrounding counties who attend each performance. In addition, residency programs enable Hancher artists to work with students in select schools from a single day up to several weeks.

Hancher also sponsors an ICN series that enables students anywhere in Iowa to participate in interactive workshops with Hancher artists. Participating artists in Hancher's education events have included Wynton Marsalis, cast and crew from "Beauty and the Beast," the Ying Quartet, Sweet Honey in the Rock and Pilobolus. To date, students in 50 Iowa communities have enriched their understanding of the arts through Hancher programs.

"I've had the opportunity to attend Stage Door performances," Janice Wilson said, "and it's great to see the children's amazement when they watch these world-class performers. I think having great experiences with performing arts early in life can help children envision new possibilities for themselves, and see a better world out there."

In addition to the Wilsons' recent $1 million gift to create the arts education fund, they provided major support for Hancher's Arts-across-the-Curriculum project, a four-year program that sponsored extended residencies by Hancher artists in 12 schools in six eastern Iowa communities, and encouraged educators to integrate the arts into their curricula.

Charles Swanson, executive director at Hancher, said, "Janice and Herb have been true friends to Hancher in every way. Their committed support of arts education has already had a tremendous impact on Iowa students. This endowment will help ensure that Hancher's strong arts education programming will continue far into the future."

Hancher Director of Development Margaret Reese said, "Hancher is extremely grateful for the Wilsons' generous support. Endowed funds are especially important to help sustain and increase Hancher's level of activity, artistic quality, and national and international recognition—and especially to support the auditorium in continuing to enrich the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iowans."

The Wilsons are serving as chairs of Hancher's portion of the university's current Good. Better. Best. Iowa fund-raising campaign, and are members of the Presidents Club, which honors the university's most generous contributors. They have also contributed to UI athletics programs, the Old Capitol Endowment, the School of Music and the Byron R. Ross Teaching Assistant Award in the UI department of accounting.

The Wilson gift is part of the UI's $850 million comprehensive campaign, which will run through 2005 and is being conducted under the guidance of the UI Foundation. The seven-year effort is raising private funds to help launch a variety of initiatives across the university, substantially increase the number of UI scholarships and endowed faculty positions, support new educational and research facilities, build the UI's endowment and fund outreach and service programs to benefit Iowans.

The UI Foundation is acknowledged by the UI as a preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university. For more information about the Good. Better. Best. Iowa campaign, visit its web site at