VanderCook College of Music Receives $2.5 Million ‘Challenge Gift’

Mike Lawson • News • April 28, 2017

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Keith Mardak, CEO and chairman of the board of Hal Leonard, has donated $2.5 million dollars to Chicago’s VanderCook College of Music. 

The donation is a “challenge gift” that requires the school to raise an equal amount from other donors, and all funds will be used to help the college finish the renovation of its performance center.

“This opportunity is unprecedented in VanderCook’s history,” said Dr. Charles T. Menghini, president of Vandercook.  “We will soon be embarking on raising the $2.5M 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.”  

As of right now, the school leases two buildings from the Illinois Institute of Technology, one of which it has been renovating to use at a performance center.  About half of the building has been renovated and is in use, but the money donated by Mardak – provided the school meets his challenge – will help to finish work on the “Great Hall,” an area for performances, concerts, and events.

All together, VanderCook has made large waves in the music education pool, and Mardak notes that he made the donation to VanderCook in particular because of the school’s major role in music education, as well as his association with Menghini.

“We estimate that on any given day, more than a quarter of a million students are influenced by a teacher who studied at VanderCook,” said Menghini.

Mardak is also close to Herman Knoll and George Quinlan, 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,” said Mardak. “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.’”



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