Sweetwater Partners with Purdue School of Music

Mike Lawson • News • January 15, 2018

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Purdue University Fort Wayne and Sweetwater officials have announced a partnership that will locate a majority of the university’s music technology program on the Sweetwater campus.

The company will turn an existing 8,000 square foot facility, just south of the main building, into a learning center that will include studios, classrooms, and other teaching spaces.

The facility is expected to open in August 2018, prior to the university’s fall semester and first day of classes.

Chuck and Lisa Surack and Sweetwater will provide $1.6 million for the build-out of the facility, and the university will reimburse the $1.6 million over a six-year period. In addition, Purdue is receiving a gift-in-kind in the amount of $1.465 million, based on the Surack’s not charging any interest or rent for the building. Additionally, the students and faculty will enjoy the many benefits of the Sweetwater campus from its recording studios to the amenities that its employees take advantage of, including the Downbeat Diner, Crescendo Cafe, Health Club and more.

In addition to funding from Sweetwater, the State of Indiana and the English Bonner Mitchell foundation have each provided $1 million to the Purdue music program.

 “This music technology facility is a major new collaboration between Purdue Fort Wayne and the local business community,” said Chancellor Ronald Elsenbaumer. “We’re extremely grateful to Chuck Surack and Lisa for working with us in what I hope will be the first of many partnerships we hope to build over the coming years.”

“Sweetwater’s relationship with the Music Department at the IU and Purdue campus has been strong for decades,” said Chuck Surack, Sweetwater founder and president. “This music technology facility takes that relationship to an entirely new level. It will not only provide a fully-equipped, state-of-the-art learning facility, but will allow for more collaboration and integration between students and the professional work of Sweetwater’s talented and dedicated music professionals, as well as access through internships to our three professional recording studios and Performance Theatre. We also look forward to having Purdue students here to explore and enjoy the many unique features of our campus.”

The facility has been designed by The Russ Berger Design Group. The new construction will include a world-class recording studio with an adjacent teaching lab, three isolation booths, four editing suites, a student musical collaboration center, an equipment library, classrooms, conference rooms, and administrative offices.

This learning center will accommodate two proposed new majors. A B.S. in Music Industry will be essential in preparing graduating students to find employment in the music industry. A B.S. in Popular Music will offer concentrations in Recording or Songwriting,

Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore David Long said, “The new partnership between Sweetwater and Purdue University Fort Wayne is exactly the kind of innovation we need as we look to the future of our state’s workforce. These are the kinds of ventures required to develop the next generation of talent here in northeast Indiana and throughout the Hoosier state.

“More importantly,” Long added, “this will be the first, and only, School of Music in the Purdue University system. The fact that Purdue is collaborating with one of the cutting edge, global leaders in the musical world in Sweetwater Sound makes it a home run for everyone concerned.”

“The visibility of the new Purdue Fort Wayne music technology program will be greatly enhanced by the thousands of visitors to the Sweetwater campus who will see our presence and meet our students in our building and the main Sweetwater facility as well,” said Greg Jones, chair and professor of music.

As announced in mid-December, the Purdue University Board of Trustees approved the College of Visual and Performing Arts to establish a School of Music (previously a department of music) at Purdue University Fort Wayne effective July 1, 2018.

In addition to the new degrees mentioned above, The School of Music will offer degrees to existing programs in music performance, music education, and music therapy, plus an international performers certificate. The school also plans to host more national music festivals on campus.

“Our music program is already home to world-class faculty and staff and growing it from a music department to a school of music will attract more students nationally and internationally,” said John O’Connell, dean of the college of visual and performing arts. “Creating a state-of-the-art facility on the Sweetwater campus sets our program above and beyond that of any program of this kind in the nation.”

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