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GoodShot: Gift boosts renovations and research in arts, humanities

By Marisa Larson  

Music sounds a bit sweeter at K-State thanks to a generous gift from the estate of Philip and Jeune Kirmser.

The newly renovated Kirmser Hall, previously known as McCain 204, serves as classroom, rehearsal and performance space for the entire choral program at K-State. Music history, music for elementary teachers, and other classes also meet in this room. “More than 1,000 students go through its doors every week,” said Dr. Gary Mortenson, director of the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. “A major part of the renovation went toward making the room acoustically sound and versatile.”

“I have heard several recitals in the room, and it’s so much more professional and inspiring to be in the space,” said Dr. Julie Yu-Oppenheim, co-director of choral activities. “I feel the students carry themselves differently now. They feel special knowing that alumni, the administration and supporters of K-State care enough to support their endeavors.”

The Kirmsers were always strong supporters of education and the arts and shared a love of music, languages and traveling. Philip was a professor of civil engineering at K-State for some 60 years, and Jeune was an English teacher, a school social worker, a poet and long-time school board observer. “Both of my parents were strong supporters of the arts,” said the Kirmsers’ daughter, Sandy Chastan. “They felt the arts were very important to a person’s education and quality of life.”

The Kirmsers left nearly $1 million to be divided evenly between the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, the Department of Modern Languages, and K-State Libraries. The language department is using the funds to renovate and equip their language laboratories with the most up-to-date technology. They and K-State Libraries also plan to use their funds to further undergraduate research, a major component of K-State’s vision to be a top 50 public research university by 2025.

“My parents were dedicated to ensuring a quality education for everyone,” Chastan said. “They felt that giving this gift to K-State was the best way they could impact generations of students and allow K-State to implement programs that weren’t progressing due to insufficient funds.”

How you can help

To learn about how you can support the variety of programs found in the College of Arts & Sciences, contact Sheila Walker at 785-532-7511 or

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Good for K-State is a magazine devoted to the inspiration and impact of private philanthropy for Kansas State University. The magazine is published for the thousands of alumni and friends who advance K-State through philanthropy and is also available online for everyone to enjoy. We invite your comments, questions and ideas. Just send an email. We are eager to hear from you and welcome your participation!

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