Sweetwater to host Purdue music center

January 10th, 2018

By Linda Lipp | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

Purdue University Fort Wayne and Sweetwater will partner on a project to transform an 8,000-square-foot building on the Sweetwater campus into a music technology learning center that will include studios, classrooms and other teaching spaces.

Chuck and Lisa Surack and Sweetwater will provide $1.6 million for the build-out of the facility, which will be reimbursed by the university in the form of structured payments over a six-year period. In addition, Purdue Fort Wayne is receiving a gift-in-kind in the amount of $1.465 million, based on the Suracks not charging any interest or rent for the building.

The partnership was announced at a news conference Jan. 10.

The bulk of what is now Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne will become Purdue Fort Wayne July 1, pending Higher Learning Commission approval. Purdue will take over most of the programs on campus, with the exception of nursing and other health-care related degrees that will be offered by IU.

The learning center will accommodate two proposed new majors. A bachelor of science degree in music industry will help prepare graduates to find employment in that business. A bachelor of science in popular music will offer concentrations in recording or songwriting.

The facility is expected to open in August, prior to the university’s fall semester and first day of classes.

In addition to funding from Sweetwater, the state of Indiana and the English Bonter Mitchell Foundation have each provided $1 million to the Purdue music program. A significant portion of these funds, not yet determined, will be used for gear and infrastructure for the Sweetwater campus project.

“This music technology facility is a major new collaboration between Purdue Fort Wayne and the local business community,” said Chancellor Ronald Elsenbaumer. “Since arriving in Fort Wayne a few months ago, I have been incredibly impressed with the generosity of those in the Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana communities. Chuck and Lisa Surack are excellent examples of this generosity and we’re extremely grateful to them for working with us in what I hope will be the first of many partnerships we build over the coming years.”

The facility has been designed by the Russ Berger Design Group, known for creating educational spaces using the latest technological innovations and specializing in acoustical and architectural design for schools and studios. The new building will include a world-class recording studio with an adjacent teaching lab, three isolation booths, four editing suites, a student musical collaboration center, an equipment library, classrooms, conference rooms and administrative offices.

“Sweetwater’s relationship with the music department at the IU and Purdue campus has been strong for decades,” Sweetwater founder Chuck Surack said. “This music technology facility takes that relationship to an entirely new level. It will not only provide a fully-equipped, state-of-the-art learning facility but will allow for more collaboration and integration between students and the professional work of Sweetwater’s talented and dedicated music professionals, as well as access through internships to our three professional recording studios and performance theatre. We also look forward to having Purdue students here to explore and enjoy the many unique features of our campus.”

As announced in mid-December, the Purdue University Board of Trustees approved the establishment of a school of music at Purdue Fort Wayne effective July 1.

“The visibility of the new Purdue Fort Wayne music technology program will be greatly enhanced by the thousands of visitors to the Sweetwater campus who will see our presence and meet our students in our building and the main Sweetwater facility as well,” said Greg Jones, chair and professor of music.

In addition to the new degrees mentioned, the music school will offer degrees to existing programs in music performance, music education and music therapy, plus an international performers certificate.

Founded in 1979, Sweetwater is the leading online retailer of music instruments and audio gear in the United States and the second largest worldwide, according to sales statistics from Music Trades magazine.