April 29, 2024

Challey School of Music addition to begin construction


In 2014, the NDSU music department officially became the Challey School of Music in honor of Robert and Sheila Challey’s generous financial support to music students through a scholarship endowment fund they established in 2006.

Now, a decade later, the Challey family is funding a 9,700 square-foot building addition to the northwest corner of Reineke Fine Arts Center. Construction is set to begin in summer 2024.

Designed by Foss Architecture & Interiors, the expansion will provide additional teaching studios for faculty, adjunct staff and graduate students. It also includes a 1,000 square-foot rehearsal space, practice rooms, extra storage and locker facilities, and a recording facility to accommodate the music program’s massive growth in recent decades.

“The current facility was built in 1982. Now, with four times the number of music majors, more than double the faculty and the addition of 24 resident graduate students, we certainly needed additional space,” says John Miller, Director of the Challey School of Music. “The sponsorship and generosity of the Challey family has been profound.”

The gift will also fund renovations of existing spaces in the Reineke Fine Arts Center, including the façade of the building on the corner of 12th Avenue North and Bolley Drive.

The NDSU Foundation hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, April 24, to officially announce the building addition to nearly 200 students, faculty, staff, benefactors and alumni. A trumpet ensemble directed by Jeremy Brekke, a choral rendition of “The Yellow and the Green” led by Jo Ann Miller, and a Gold Star Marching Band performance led by Connor Challey added a festive flair to the celebration while reminding everyone of the importance of supporting music education.

In his remarks, NDSU President David Cook shared that the expansion “signifies a commitment to nurturing creativity, fostering talent, and enriching a cultural celebration of our community. This generous gift will have a transformational impact on generations of future Bison.”

Other speakers at the ceremony included NDSU Foundation President, John Glover; NDSU College of Arts & Sciences Dean, Kimberly Wallin; Challey School of Music Director, John Miller; and Bob Challey, whose family history with NDSU goes back nearly a century. “That’s a big part of my love for the university,” Bob Challey shared on stage.

Bob and Sheila Challey have been focusing on funding scholarships for graduate music students in recent years. Through the building addition, they’re filling the need for more space for masters and doctoral candidates to teach and do research.

“We’ll have greatly expanded facilities that will accomplish that goal, and I’m really proud of that,” Challey said.

North Dakota State University’s music program has been continuously accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music since 1970 and has a strong tradition of excellence in ensembles dating back to 1904.

The Challey School of Music building addition is the next exciting iteration of the Challey family’s dedication to ensuring the music program at NDSU continues to promote high-quality teaching, artistic performance, outreach and scholarly excellence through its performance and degree programs for decades to come.

To learn more about the Challey School of Music, visit ndsu.edu/music.

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