Generous Gift Supports Middle Campus Plan for Arts, Creativity, and Innovation

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Community member walks through Middle Campus
By Ben Badua February 8, 2022

A generous $5 million gift from Trustee Emeritus Rob Kindler ’76, P’04,’08,’12 and his wife, Sydney P’17,’20, in support of the Middle Campus Plan for Arts, Creativity, and Innovation has moved Colgate University one step closer to its vision of integrating arts and innovation in a wide range of programs across campus.

A key component of Colgate’s ambitious and far-reaching Third-Century Plan, the reimagined Middle Campus will promote connections among the arts, sciences, and technology, and establish a central hub that links departments, curricula, and cocurricular interests that touch on creative processes and student expression.

Long-term planning for Middle Campus calls for a series of projects, including construction of the new Benton Center for Creativity and Innovation; renovation of James C. Colgate Hall as a site for curricular music programs; creation of the Picker Pavilion and interconnected facilities to house Colgate’s museum collections; and the renovation of the Dana Center and Brehmer Theater. The Kindlers’ gift will support these efforts.

“The Kindlers’ generous gift will allow us to advance initiatives that more fully integrate the arts into the fabric of the Colgate experience,” says Lesleigh Cushing, senior advisor to the president for arts and innovation initiatives and the Murray W. and Mildred K. Finard Professor in Jewish studies and religion. “It is clear from speaking with Rob and Sydney that their family shares passions for music, dance, and the visual arts and that they and their children are interested in technological and educational innovation. The Kindlers’ gift supporting the arts and innovation celebrates the intersection of these interests in their lives and recognizes the exciting potential of these areas intersecting in Colgate’s Middle campus.”

Kindler was recruited to Colgate as a classical flutist and took up bassoon as an independent study course. He has long been a supporter of the arts at Colgate, having endowed the Kindler Family Chair in Global Contemporary Art and the Kindler Family Music Room in Case Library. 

“Music was a big part of my life at Colgate and the reason why I went there,” says Kindler. “We want Colgate to be a destination for talented students interested in the arts, and I’m excited to invest in the facilities that will allow the University to support its outstanding arts programs.”

Colgate will break ground this year on the first project within the Middle Campus initiative, The Benton Center for Creativity and Innovation. With each passing year, new academic initiative, and completed construction project, Middle Campus will create opportunities for students and faculty to move between disciplines. This intentional academic neighborhood connecting Lower Campus and the Academic Quadrangle promises to be a site of collaboration, exploration, and experimentation that will help Colgate to set a new standard for the teaching and production of arts, creativity, and innovation within the liberal arts context.