ST. MARY’S CITY, Md. – Students at St. Mary’s College of Maryland for decades to come will be the beneficiaries of the largest gift in the College’s history, announced today during the grand opening ceremony for the new Performing Arts Center and Learning Commons. Longtime benefactor Nancy R. Dodge provided the gift. In recognition of this historic contribution, the College announced the naming of the new facility as the Nancy R. and Norton T. Dodge Performing Arts Center, honoring both Mrs. Dodge and her late husband, a former St. Mary’s College trustee and professor of economics.
“Norton contributed generously to St. Mary’s College and I felt that it was important for me to contribute also,” said Mrs. Dodge. “Without a fine education, especially in the liberal arts, one is handicapped socially and intellectually it seems to me. The better educated we are, the better we are able to contribute meaningfully to society.”
The future Dodges first met when Professor Dodge was a St. Mary’s College trustee. In 1980, the same year the couple were married, Professor Dodge resigned from the board and became a professor of economics, a position he held until his retirement in 1989. The couple’s generosity to the College has continued throughout this association. In 1979 the Dodges’ Cremona Foundation loaned 400 pieces of art to display in Montgomery Hall for the symposium “Perspectives on Soviet Russian Culture.” In 1981, the College hosted “The World of Islam: Tradition and Change,” and through 2000, it is estimated that more than a dozen shows in the Boyden Gallery featured pieces from this unique collection. Since 2012, Mrs. Dodge has hosted the Cremona Summer Archaeology program at the couple’s farm. In 2020, the merit-based Norton T. and Nancy R. Dodge Scholarship Endowed Fund was established with a new, substantial donation.
“The impact of the Performing Arts Center on the College cannot be overstated,” said Tuajuanda C. Jordan, Ph.D., president of St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “In much the same way, Nancy and Norton Dodge’s generosity to the College, through their time, energy, and monetary contributions, has enriched the educational experience of countless students and enhanced the lives of many among the broader community. It is most fitting to honor their names in association with this transformative facility.”
Nancy R. Dodge, a trained organist and pianist, graduated in 1958 from DePauw University with a history degree and earned a second major and a master’s degree in organ performance from Northwestern University. Mrs. Dodge made a career with Encyclopaedia Britannica and was the company’s first female to be responsible for a sales region.
Norton T. Dodge, who died in 2011, graduated from Cornell University and then earned both a master’s degree in Russian Regional Studies and a doctorate degree in economics from Harvard. Professor Dodge was a professor of economics at St. Mary’s College from 1980 to 1989, a member of the College’s Board of Trustees from 1968 to 1979 and served as a St. Mary’s College of Maryland Foundation Director from 1980 to 2000. The College awarded Professor Dodge an honorary degree in 2002.
The Nancy R. and Norton T. Dodge Performing Arts Center houses the College’s Music Department and includes classrooms, music labs, rehearsal rooms and a 125-seat recital hall. The building also showcases a 700- seat auditorium for music performances, lectures, colloquia, other large gatherings and a floor-to-ceiling curved glass lobby area for receptions. The Performing Arts Center, along with a new Learning Commons building, comprise a $66 million project funded cooperatively by the College, which raised $2.5 million in private donations, and the State of Maryland.
Out of respect for the donor, the amount of the donation will not be disclosed.
For photos from the entire grand opening weekend’s events, visit the College’s Flickr account.