Texas Tech University

College of Visual & Performing Arts Renamed After Talkingtons

Margaret Talkington
Margaret Talkington

A Texas Tech University theatre building is getting a renovation and expansion and a college is getting a new name, thanks to the legacy of generosity of two West Texans.

The first is due to a $10 million donation from the J.T. and Margaret Talkington Charitable Foundation, which, when combined with university matching funds, will pay for the first phase of renovation for the Charles E. Maedgen Jr. Theatre. It is the first major renovation in decades and will make it a state-of-the-art facility, including spaces for research and academic advancement.

The second is broader. The Talkington Foundation's legacy of giving to Texas Tech began during the couple's lifetime and has continued through the work of the foundation. In total, the couple has donated more than $66 million to Texas Tech. Many of these gifts created matching opportunities, resulting in a total philanthropic impact of more than $100 million to the Texas Tech University System for investment in the arts, undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, public art, student leadership opportunities and myriad educational ventures. To honor that legacy, system officials this weekend announced the naming of the J.T. and Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts.

JT Talkington
J.T. Talkington

“It is only fitting that we honor in this way a couple who loved the arts and who have graced Texas Tech time and time again with their generosity,” Texas Tech University System Chancellor Robert Duncan said. “J.T. and Margaret Talkington believed, as we do, that the arts are essential to the human experience, the quality of life a community enjoys and the creativity and vision that keep a university like Texas Tech pushing new boundaries of knowledge and discovery.”

Home to more than 1,100 students and industry-leading faculty, the college is a dynamic and integral part of the arts community in Lubbock and the greater West Texas area.

“J.T. and Margaret understood the significance of the arts and Texas Tech in this community,” said Norton Baker, president of the J.T. & Margaret Talkington Charitable Foundation. “The arts and this university were their greatest passions, and they realized the inextricable bond between them that makes Lubbock a vibrant community. We are proud that J.T. and Margaret's legacy will be associated with the thriving culture of the arts at this great university.”

The college was formed in 2002 and includes the School of Music, the School of Art and the School of Theatre & Dance, all of which have made significant contributions to the Lubbock and South Plains communities through performances, outreach, arts education and introducing artists to the community. Members of the college, including faculty, staff and students, are valuable members of many community arts organizations, including the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, Lubbock Community Theatre, the Flatlands Dance Company and dozens of church choirs throughout the area.

Noel Zahler
Noel Zahler

“We are grateful to J.T. and Margaret Talkington and the Talkington Foundation for their generosity and investment in our university for many years,” said Texas Tech University President Lawrence Schovanec. “Their contributions not only reinforce the commitment to the arts at Texas Tech University but also enhance the success of our students.”

For Dean Noel Zahler, who has been in this position since Sept. 1, the donation and renaming demonstrate the college's momentum as well as the vibrancy of arts education at Texas Tech. The kinds of forward-thinking research and academic facilities planned for the renovation and expansion of the Maedgen Theatre will create important opportunities for the college to deliver the types of facilities expected by top-tier students and faculty.

“Our students have come primarily for the excellence of our faculty, but that can only happen for so long,” he said. “Then we have to bite the bullet and realize that a world-class school has to have world-class facilities, and that's what we're trying to build.”

The mainstage and lab theatres will see improvements as part of the planned enhancements, which ultimately will impact the entire building. New research and teaching spaces will address the lack of dedicated facilities in the existing building, and facilities for set and wardrobe construction will see significant upgrades. When complete, the renovations will add much-needed academic space and increase the capacity of the School of Theatre & Dance to rehearse and producing the kinds of performances that draw thousands of patrons from the South Plains community every year.

CONTACT: Noel Zahler, Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts, (806) 742-0070 or noel.zahler@ttu.eduNorton Baker, president of the J.T. & Margaret Talkington Charitable Foundation board of directors, (806) 792-1014

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