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Frequently Asked Questions



Why is Messiah College building a new worship and performing arts center as the cornerstone project of its Centennial Campaign?
In the past 20 years, student enrollment in Messiah’s School of the Arts has doubled and created a significant demand on rehearsal and performance space in the current Climenhaga Fine Arts Center facility. Adding a worship and performing arts center onto the current fine arts center will provide critically needed, dedicated space to accommodate the classroom, office, rehearsal, and performance needs of the music and theatre departments within the School of the Arts.


In addition, the space will serve as much-needed, dedicated space for a significant amount of College Ministries programming—including the more than 100 alternate chapels held each semester—as well as opportunities for student and community worship.


The new worship and performing arts center will also be utilized by a majority of Messiah College’s student body as students fulfill general education requirements in music, theatre, or the visual arts.

The additional space also provides a well-suited venue for lectures, symposiums, open houses, and other campus programs.


What is the official name of the new worship and performing arts center?
The formal name of the new facility is the Calvin and Janet High Center for Worship and Performing Arts.


Calvin and Janet High are longtime friends and supporters of the College. Mr. High was a member of the board of trustees for 25 years. He and his wife are parents of a graduate and grandparents of two 2010 graduates and one current student.


Why build a new facility now?
Between 1981 and 2009, student enrollment in the School of the Arts has doubled and the number of majors and full-time faculty has tripled. The School of the Arts is expected to reach optimum enrollment in the next five to seven years which will increase the number of majors from 237 to 350. For these reasons, Messiah is in need of expanded facilities to house the growing arts program.  In addition, favorable changes in construction costs have made this project more advantageous at this time.


What about the challenging economy?
Certainly Messiah College is not immune to challenges associated with today’s difficult economic times. However, the need for additional space for the College’s School of the Arts is significant, and plans to expand the Climenhaga Fine Arts Center have been under consideration for years. 


A 2007 feasibility study both affirmed the need for additional worship services and programming and documented the rapid growth of the School of the Arts.  Due to the critical need for more practice and performance space for the music and theatre departments, reasonable construction costs, and generous financial pledges from Messiah College donors during the silent phase of the campaign, President Phipps and the Board of Trustees determined that the timing is now opportune to move forward with the building.


What will be included in the new worship and performing arts center?
The 86,000-square foot addition will include 6 classrooms, 18 faculty offices, an 825-plus-seat performance hall, a recital hall, rehearsal spaces for choral, instrumental, and chamber music ensembles, 22 practice rooms, a computer lab, and a recording studio.


How will the performance hall be used?
The College’s music department has 32 ensembles that perform on-campus concerts throughout the academic year, and those ensembles will utilize the performance hall for their public concerts. In addition, the performance hall will be well suited for student chapel services; public lectures and conferences; and for rental by outside groups and organizations seeking a venue of this particular size.


What is the construction schedule?
A ceremonial groundbreaking took place on May 13. Throughout the summer and fall, a new parking lot will be constructed nearby and utilities will be moved in preparation for actual construction to begin in early 2011. The College anticipates opening the facility in early 2013.


What is the proposed cost of the facility?
The projected building costs are estimated to be $28 million.

The College’s fundraising goal is to raise $19 million for the worship and performing arts center. President Phipps announced that the College has raised $18 million towards this goal when the campaign publicly launched on May 12. The College will seek to complete its fundraising goal by raising the remaining $1 million. The project balance will be funded by a combination of gifts, pledges, grants, and other previously undesignated gifts. 


Will any aspect of the new building retain the Climenhaga name?
When the worship and performing arts center is complete, the complex will be referred to as the Calvin and Janet High Center for Worship and Performing Arts – named for the lead donors of the new facility. At this point, various spaces within both the new and existing portions of the building have not been officially named. It is the College’s intent to continue to honor Asa and Anna Climenhaga, early Messiah educators who the fine arts center was originally named in honor of, by naming a space for them.


Will improvements and renovations be made in the Climenhaga Fine Arts Center portion of the building during construction?
Yes, in addition to the construction of the worship and performing arts center adjacent to the Climenhaga Fine Arts Center, some spaces within the existing building will undergo significant renovations. For example, because the Worship and Performing Arts Center addition includes a recital hall, the recital hall in Climenhaga will be converted into a blackbox theatre.


Will the building remain open during construction?
Yes, the Climenhaga Fine Arts Center will remain open and operational during construction although there may be times when portions of the buildings are inaccessible.


How will the new facility enhance the campus worship experience?
Although the College will continue to use Brubaker Auditorium in the Eisenhower Campus Center for its large chapel gatherings, the new worship and performing arts center will provide critically needed space for the more than 100 alternative chapel services that take place each semester. Beyond the campus community, the new space will also be used for educational and professional development opportunities for local worship leaders and church music professionals.


How can the public enjoy this new facility?
Most events in the new Calvin and Janet High Center for Worship and Performing Arts will be open to the public, including ensemble concerts, Cultural Series performances, and lectures, for example. The performance hall will also be available for rental, and some local arts organizations – like the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra – have expressed interest to occasionally use the space for performances or auditions.


What do students think about this project?
Students, particularly those in the academic departments of music and theatre, are especially excited to see this new building project get underway. The additional practice and performance space is both much-needed and much-desired by students and faculty alike, and will certainly help to enrich the artistic and academic experience of our arts students. In addition, a majority of Messiah’s students who are not arts majors participate in music or theatre courses through their general education requirements and will benefit from the improved classroom and rehearsal spaces in the new facility.