University of Alabama receives historic $20M donation for performing arts center

Members Of The Smith Family
Members of the Smith family at the ceremony. (The University of Alabama on Facebook)

At a ceremony on February 25, the family of Mark Smith, founder of global telecommunications company ADTRAN, announced a $20M donation in his memory to UA’s upcoming Performing Arts Academic Center. The generous donation is the largest charitable gift to a UA facility in the school’s history. Keep reading for all the details.

A historic gift

According to a report by The Tuscaloosa News, the historic $20M donation provided by Clay, Cameron and Linda Smith will go towards a performing arts academic center, which is currently under construction on the historic Bryce Hospital campus.

“We are grateful to the Smiths for what is not only an incredible legacy for their family but a lasting inheritance for our students, community and generations to come. This stunning new facility will further transform our campus, allow us to showcase our students’ exceptional talents and make UA a beacon for the performing arts.”

Stuart R. Bell, President, The University of Alabama

The Smith Family Center for the Performing Arts, pending approval by the UA board of trustees, will connect to UA’s new welcome center, and house UA’s theatre and dance department.

Proposed features of the state-of-the-art center include:

  • a black box theatre with 175-275 seating capacity
  • a 350-seat proscenium style theatre
  • a 450-seat venue specifically designed for dance
  • a dance studio theatre with flexible rehearsal, recital and smaller performance space

The space will also allow UA theatre and dance faculty to train students in a professional-grade setting.

Rising Tide Capital Campaign

In addition to providing generous support to UA’s performing arts, the Smith family’s donation helped the Rising Tide Capital Campaign surpass $1B, pushing the campaign closer to their $1.5B goal.

The campaign aims to lift UA to new heights and increase student scholarships, boost faculty research, improve campus facilities and continue to push the athletics program to success.

Specifically, the campaign aims to create 1,000 new scholarships and 75 new faculty endowments.

Pending approval from the board of trustees, the new center is slated to be completed in 2026.

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Gabby Gervais
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