Leading donors gathered to celebrate the creative arts center their gifts made possible

March 26, 2024

In a joyful and musical progressive tour and dinner, leading donors to OSU’s new $75 million Patricia Valian Reser Center for the Creative Arts, known as PRAx, celebrated the completion of this long-held university dream on March 26, 2024.

Group photo of Ed Feser, Peter Betjemann, Jayathi Murthy, Pat Reser, Larry Rodgers, and Shawn Scoville.
Ed Feser, Peter Betjemann, Jayathi Murthy, Pat Reser, Larry Rodgers, Shawn L. Scoville

At each stop of the tour, guests learned about features and purposes of the new facility, as well as the donors who supported it. Starting in a tent on the Austin I Parrish Arts Plaza, near the building housing the Morse Rehearsal Classroom, the group followed the OSU Drum Line into Toomey Lobby. After learning about Dixie’s Garden and exploring Stirek Gallery, guests enjoyed dinner on the stage of Detrick Hall, followed by a surprise a cappella serenade from the balcony by the OSU Vocal Ensemble. After time to explore the backstage area and the Ray Theater, the celebration ended on a high note as the OSU Brass Ensemble brought the memorable evening to a close. 

“A lot of universities have amazing arts venues but our vision for PRAx, from inception, was unique, and a differentiator for OSU because it marries the arts and the sciences," said OSU President Jayathi Murthy. "What is most exciting to me is that it will unleash creativity across the board, in everything we do at OSU." For this reason, PRAx represents a key part of OSU’s bold new strategic plan, Prosperity Widely Shared

"An arts center has been a dream for the university for a century. I knew if we paired the strength of the OSU Foundation, including the urgency we bring to our work, with the vision and passion of President Emeritus Ed Ray, College of Liberal Arts Dean Larry Rodgers and volunteer leader extraordinaire Pat Reser, we would get it done."

Shawn L. Scoville, OSU Foundation president and CEO


Ed Ray smiling in front of Edward J Ray Theater.
OSU President Emeritus Ed Ray


A long, winding road

A new music building was listed at the top of the “Buildings Needed at Once” list in the Olmstead Brothers campus plan of 1909. Since then, a music or performing arts center was proposed almost every decade.

In the late ’70s, OSU pursued the idea of what was called the Great Hall: a proposed 2,500-seat performing arts center. This evolved, of necessity, into the LaSells Stewart Center with its 1,200-seat Austin Auditorium: a flexible conference and meeting space. 

But the dream of an arts center persisted. And with the arrival of OSU President Ed Ray in 2005, the glimmer of this dream, magnified by the OSU Foundation, became a bright, daring vision.

At the end of the donor celebration, Peter Betjemann, the Patricia Valian Reser Executive Director, said that the road to PRAx was long but our arrival was not overdue. Imagine, he suggested, what kind of arts center OSU would have built in the 1920s, or the 1970s. “Today we have capabilities no one dreamed of then, and our vision for the arts is more urgent than ever – combining creative insights through the arts with the advances in science and technology that OSU makes on a daily basis in laboratories and fields.

“PRAx arrived right on time,” he said. “And the reason for that is because you all, the people with us tonight, were here for OSU, just when we needed you. Thank you!” 


Room shot of Ed Feser giving a speech in front of guests.
Provost Ed Feser in Toomey Lobby

Experience PRAx

The PRAx origin story has ended, but the story of what PRAx will be for OSU and our community is just beginning. Join the next chapter of PRAx:

Buy tickets

Join Friends of PRAx and enjoy special benefits and events. 

Name a seat in Detrick Hall and build the endowment that will support PRAx for years to come.


Leading the way

Warmest thanks to Patricia Valian Reser, ’60, ’19 (Hon. Ph.D.), who has given more than $36 million for the arts  at OSU, including the $25 million gift for PRAx that inspired over $5 million in other gifts and helped OSU secure $38 million in state bonds.

More than 200 households and organizations made gifts for the construction of PRAx and endowments that provide permanent support for the facility and arts programs.

Special thanks to donors of $500,000 or more:

Celia Strickland Austin, ’76, & Ken Austin III, ’76, 
and Loni Austin Parrish, ’81, & Scott N. Parrish, ’81
Celia Strickland Austin & Ken Austin III and 
Loni Austin Parrish & Scott N. Parrish Arts Plaza

George F. and Lynne A. Detrick, ’63 
Lynne Hallstrom Detrick Concert Hall

Dixie Luana Wooton Kenney, ’62 
Dixie Luana Wooten Kenney Garden

Linda L. & Frank Morse, ’70 
Linda and Frank Morse Rehearsal Classroom

Kate, ’83, & John A. Stirek, ’82 
Kate and John Stirek Gallery

Thomas W. Toomey, ’82
Thomas W. Toomey ’82 Lobby