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Updated 10:00 AM October 31, 2005




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  The Michigan Difference
Towsley Foundation gives $1.5M to School of Music

The Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation has donated $1.5 million to
U-M and the School of Music toward construction of the Charles R.Walgreen Jr. Drama Center.

The facility, currently under construction on North Campus with an expected completion date of 2007, will house the 250-seat Arthur Miller Theatre and provide the school with modern rehearsal rooms, faculty offices, classrooms and specialized studios. The gift is designated for a rehearsal hall that will be named at a later date.

"It seems only fitting that the Towsleys, one of the University's most loyal families, support one of U-M's most exceptional programs, the Department of Musical Theatre," President Mary Sue Coleman says. "With this gift, the Towsley family and the Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation continue their exceptional legacy of making a tremendous difference in the lives of Michigan students and faculty."

The relationship between the University and the Towsley family began in the early 20th century when Margaret Dow Towsley and Harry A. Towsley earned degrees from U-M, she a bachelor's and he, medical. Margaret Towsley later earned a master's degree from Columbia University Teachers College and honorary degrees from U-M, Eastern Michigan University and Cleary College. Dr. Towsley became a professor of pediatrics and chairman of the postgraduate medicine department at U-M.

Throughout their lives in Ann Arbor, the couple and their children contributed more than $1 million toward scholarships awarded through the Center for the Education of Women.

They also donated $1 million to the School of Music. A cube-shaped addition to the Eero Saarinen-designed Earl V. Moore Building on North Campus is known as the Margaret Dow Towsley Center.

It houses a 158-seat vocal arts auditorium, display area for the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments and the Blanche Anderson Moore Hall that houses a mechanical action organ.

"What a tremendous gesture of generosity the Towsley Foundation has made to the U-M School of Music," says Christopher Kendall, dean of the music school. "The gift, from one of Ann Arbor's leading families of philanthropy, will allow us to make a significant difference for our students, who will use the facility each day of their time at Michigan, and for our community, who will be able to witness these talented young artists in action.

"The students, faculty and staff of the School of Music join me in expressing our great appreciation for the foundation's commitment to our future."

The couple's daughters, Judy Dow Rumelhart, Margaret Ann (Ranny) Riecker and Lynn T. White, have continued the family's philanthropic tradition with the gift through the Towsley Foundation to The Michigan Difference, the University's $2.5 billion fund-raising campaign.

Rumelhart, recipient of the School of Music's Distinguished Alumni Award and co-chair of the School of Music's Leading the Way campaign, says, "All of us at the foundation are thrilled to be a part of the Walgreen Drama Center and especially the Musical Theatre Program space."

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