USM Receives $ 10 Million Gift for New Music School in Future Portland Arts Center


The University of Southern Maine on Tuesday announced a donation of $ 10 million to build a new home in Portland for its music school, from philanthropist, music enthusiast and longtime supporter Suzi Osher.

USM said it would use the largest donation in USM Foundation history to move the school’s academic music and performance programs from its Gorham campus to a prominent location in the heart of its Portland campus. There, the Arts Center project that could pave the way by spring 2023.

In honor of the donor and her late husband, the school of music will be called the Dr. Alfred and D. Suzi Osher School of Music at the University of Southern Maine.

“The School of Music is one of USM’s signature programs of excellence and it is also one of our best-kept secrets,” said Glenn Cummings, USM President. Suzi Osher’s donation, combined with a $ 5 million donation from the Crewe Foundation earlier this summer, will help make the long-held dream of a new arts center a reality – and the outstanding school of music is a secret no Continued. “

Cummings was referring to a recent $ 5 million donation from the foundation inherited from Cumberland Foreside from the late singer, songwriter and music producer Bob Crewe. Crewe discovered and co-wrote numerous chart-topping songs for The Four Seasons in the 1960s, including “Walk Like a Man” and “Rag Doll”. He died seven years ago in Scarborough.

Corey Hascall, a 1999 USM graduate and vice president of the USM Foundation, told Mainebiz that the total cost of the Center for the Arts project is estimated to be between $ 38 million and $ 42 million.

She also said the foundation was working with architects from Pfeiffer, a design firm with offices in New York and Los Angeles, to determine the cost of the next phase of the project. Pfeiffer’s extensive artistic portfolio includes the Gonzaga University Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center in Spokane, Washington, and the Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Next step for the arts center planned by the USM

On October 27, the USM Foundation will ask a committee of the University of Maine’s system board to approve spending to proceed with design development and contract documents, Hascall said.

“Their authorization will allow USM to create a project ready for final review and board approval,” she added.

Suzi Osher, longtime patron and supporter of USM, grew up in Biddeford and developed an early love for the piano, through lessons from her childhood, and remembers playing the instrument at a local music store at the age of 10. She supported the arts through initiatives such as the Dr. Alfred Osher and D. Suzi Osher Fellowship and the launch of the Gorham-based Arts Planning Project, which evolved a decade later into the current Portland campus plan.

“Music has always been my passion,” Suzi Osher said in Tuesday’s press release. “I am honored to support the USM School of Music by enriching the education and lives of students and the community. I know my late husband Alfred would be proud to have his name associated with such an exceptional program at the University.

Alfred Osher was an oral surgeon in Biddeford and the first orthodontist certified by the Maine board of directors. Suzi Osher ran the office and then studied to become an orthodontic assistant, and the couple traveled extensively during their life together.

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