In the Loop
Press Release : Jul 26, 2023

State of Florida allocates $35 million for improvements to School of Music building at the University of Florida

The Music Building at the UF College of the Arts is among the priority line items identified by the UF Board of Trustees for State budgetary allocations toward major construction projects at the University of Florida.

The half-century-old Music Building at the University of Florida College of the Arts is finally getting a long-awaited and much-needed facelift, thanks to an infusion of state funding. 

The state's FY 2024 budget allocates $35 million for construction improvements to the UF School of Music facilities. The FY 2025 state budget will bring an additional $10 million in State support to the project, along with a $5 million fundraising commitment from the UF College of the Arts. 

The proposed project includes targeted renovations to the acoustic treatment in the existing Music Building, as well as the construction of a building addition. Proposals for the addition include a new auditorium, as well as support spaces designed to facilitate and expand interdisciplinary research opportunities for musicians. This includes research that is already underway at the School of Music in areas such as music in medicine, health and wellness, and artificial intelligence. Another aim of the proposed addition is to provide UF students and faculty with functional studio space that can support external-facing collaboration with partners in the commercial music industry—an area that is growing rapidly with the introduction of the school’s new Music Business & Entrepreneurship program

State Sen. Keith Perry led efforts to secure the funding. 
“We are deeply grateful to Sen. Perry for his support for this project and the college,” College of the Arts Dean Onye Ozuzu said. “The community of incredibly gifted musicians and composers who choose our School of Music is growing.  Our highly accomplished and dexterous faculty, such as Professor of Cello Stephen Thomas or Jazz multi-instrumentalist Scott Wilson, or the school’s new Director of Orchestra conductor Tiffany Lu, need a space where they can hear the values and qualities in the music that they and their students are making. They need a space that works with them to give audiences the full sonic experiences that we know these musicians are capable of.”  
When completed, the facility will provide the opportunity for the School of Music to fully support its current and future programs, as well as expand the number of students seeking undergraduate and graduate degrees in the various music disciplines. 

“With the completion of this project, musicians in our community and our visiting artists will finally have purpose-built, acoustically appropriate facilities for their research and live music performance—and in a way that has so far not been possible,” Ozuzu said.  

The UF School of Music currently reaches more than 3,400 students each year in its classrooms and ensembles, as well as 25,000 community members annually who attend the school’s free concerts and events. The School of Music has undergone considerable growth in recent years, reflected in the hiring of 20 new faculty members—including a new position in AI music composition and Grammy, Rome Prize and Copland Fellow recipients—and the quadrupling of the applicant pool for its doctoral program.  

“The world class faculty and students—performers, conductors, scholars, and composers—of the UF School of Music will at last enjoy state-of-the-art teaching, performance, production, and presentation spaces on par with the excellence of our programs,” said School of Music Director, Dr. Kevin Orr.    
The Music Building has been in continuous use since its construction in 1970. Improvements to the building have been a top priority for UF College of the Arts for more than 20 years, the urgent necessity for upgrades underscored by SOM’s recent growth in its faculty, student body, and research areas. Among the most significant deficiencies are the building’s inferior or absent acoustic treatment; inadequate space for concert performance, classroom instruction, or practice and rehearsal; and significant challenges related to climate control and wildlife mitigation in the open-air building space.  

Proposals to troubleshoot the Music Building’s challenges have evolved over the last decade. These range from early proposals to renovate the building, to more drastic advocacy to replace the existing structure with a new building entirely. The current proposal strikes a balance that prioritizes updating the acoustics of the existing structure paired with the construction of a state-of-the-art annex.  
“This will infuse the School of Music with the technology that is necessary for faculty we’ve hired in recent years to realize their potential in manifesting the strategic priorities of the University of Florida and the College of the Arts in showing how the arts is contributing at the cutting edge of the Florida’s emerging national and global leadership in the technological revolution—as evidenced by research and pedagogy coming out of the UF School of Music by the likes of professors Tina Tallon, José Valentino Ruiz, and Rich Pellegrin,” Ozuzu said.  
“And of course," she added, "these are just a few of the world-class musicians, educators and scholars at UF whose work will be propelled and elevated as we raise the caliber of our School of Music facilities.” 

The funding was part of the Fiscal Year 2023-24 that the Legislature passed and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in June. Key investments allocated through the budget to advance higher education in the state of Florida include financing for major construction projects at the University of Florida.   

For media inquiries, please contact Holly Franklin, Communications Manager, UF College of the Arts, at: T: (352) 273-1493.