Lortons to Provide Lead Gift for TU Performance Center

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

lorton performanceThe University of Tulsa has announced Roxana and Robert E. Lorton have provided the lead gift for the construction of the university’s new $34 million performance center.

TU President Steadman Upham said the building will be named the Roxana Rozsa and Robert Eugene Lorton Performance Center, to honor the legacy of their leadership at the university.

“The continued generosity of the Lorton family – and Roxana and Bob Lorton in particular – has been transformational for both the performing arts at TU and our university as a whole,” Upham said.

The Lorton family name is a familiar one on campus, which also includes Lorton Hall (dedicated in 1948 and sometimes referred to as Eugene Lorton Hall) and Lorton Village, a new on-campus apartment community that opened in fall 2007 named in honor of Bob and Roxana Lorton’s services and donations to TU.

Eugene Lorton was publisher of the Tulsa World and grandfather to Bob Lorton, who is now chairman of World Publishing Co. Robert E. Lorton III currently serves as Publisher of the Tulsa World.

"We are pleased to have the Lorton name grace this new facility. Roxana and I have deep roots with the University of Tulsa. We love TU and are excited that this new Performance Center will serve both the students and the community at large," Bob Lorton said.

TU has initiated plans to construct the 77,000-square-foot performance center along Gary Place on the east end of Harwell Field. The facility, which will face Harvard Avenue, will be TU’s showcase for the musical and performing arts. When completed, the building also will serve as the new home for the School of Music and the Film Studies Department.

Amenities within the facility are to include:

  • 700-seat concert theatre with balcony.
  • Full performance stage with ballet floor, scenery fly and trap room, hydraulic orchestra pit, theatrical lighting and acoustical control booths.
  • A 6,000 sq. ft. grand hall dually designed for art display and pre-function gatherings.
  • Faculty offices to accommodate up to two grand pianos each.
  • Specialized rehearsal and practice rooms that will accommodate all music groups
  • Classrooms and teaching studios and faculty offices.
  • An electronic piano lab.
  • Film production suite with post-production editing and scoring capabilities.
  • Two recital halls, including one with fixed seating for 100 and another with flexible seating to accommodate groups of various sizes.
  • Dressing suite complete with a green room and VIP lounge, shower and laundry facilities.
  • Outdoor colonnade with two-story Gothic arches overlooking a front lawn facing Harvard Avenue.

Approximately 90 percent of the estimated $34 million construction costs has been committed. In addition to the Lortons, major commitments have come from: the Judith and Jean Pape Adams Foundation; Ellen and Stephen Adelson; Caroline and Tom Benediktson; Pat and Arnold Brown; the J.A. and Leta Chapman Trusts; Kathie and John Coyle; Ann Graves; the estate of Nan Jankowsky; Jake Jorishie; the George Kaiser Family Foundation; Nancy and Peter Meinig; and faculty members of the Henry Kendall College of Arts and Sciences.

“Roxana and Bob are shining examples of philanthropic giving backed by word and deed,” Upham said. “Their example has led the way for a groundswell of support that has literally changed the face of our campus.”

Upham noted the Lorton Performance Center will be a cornerstone of campus and community activities for generations to come. The facility will be made available whenever possible to other performing arts groups in the Tulsa area.

Joseph Rivers, professor of music and film studies and chair of the School of Music, said the new facility will enhance student recruitment efforts and allow TU students and faculty to perform in a modern venue.

“The University of Tulsa has a longstanding musical tradition, and for nearly a century the School of Music has established a distinctive legacy of musical excellence,” Rivers said. “The new Lorton Performance Center will -- for the first time in school history -- provide our students and faculty with a venue and a home that matches the quality of their performances and the outstanding musical education that our students receive.”

Bob and Roxana Lorton both serve on TU’s Board of Trustees. They have held numerous leadership positions and have been instrumental in raising millions of dollars for student scholarships, endowed chairs, campus construction and other University initiatives that have led to TU’s rise in national prominence. The couple served as co-chairs of TU’s successful New Century Campaign, which secured $108 million from 1993-1998 and represented the University’s largest fundraising effort ever at that time. Their generous giving has earned them recognition as members of the Circle of Visionaries in the Circle Society at TU.

Bob Lorton is a native of Tulsa. He earned a bachelor’s degree from TU in 1964, and he was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 1988. He has served as chairman of numerous Tulsa-area boards, including those of the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, Tulsa Area United Way, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa Port of Catoosa Authority and Oklahoma Nature Conservancy. His board service also includes the Boy Scouts of America, Salvation Army, Sutton Avian Research Center and F&M Bank and Trust Company.

Born into the TU family, Roxana Lorton is the daughter of longtime TU music professor Béla Rozsa. A 1963 TU graduate, Lorton has maintained her close ties to TU and is a former member of the Alumni Board of Directors. Her service to TU earned her recognition as a Distinguished Alumna in 2000 and the J. Paschal Twyman Award for Outstanding Service in 1996. She has chaired the boards of the Tulsa Philharmonic, Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa Town Hall, the Philbrook Museum of Art and the Oklahoma Heritage Association. She also has served in board positions with the Tulsa Opera, The Junior League of Tulsa, Planned Parenthood, Tulsa Ballet, and the Tulsa Arts Council.