Chicago IL’s VanderCook College of Music—the only college in the country that’s dedicated solely to music education—has received the largest donor gift in its history, courtesy of Keith Mardak, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Hal Leonard. The $2.5 million challenge gift requires the college to raise an equal amount from other donors, with all funds designated to help the college to complete renovation of its performance center. The center, located on the college’s campus at the Illinois Institute of Technology, will be the college’s first dedicated performance space in its 100-plus-year history.

“This opportunity is unprecedented in VanderCook’s history,” Dr. Charles T. Menghini, President, stated. “We will soon be embarking on raising the $2.5 million necessary in order to realize Mr. Mardak’s gift. Once we attain this goal, we will have an incredible space to continue our work in preparing music teachers.”

In announcing the challenge gift, Mardak noted that he chose VanderCook College of Music both because of its role in music education and because of his association with Menghini. Mardak is also close with Herman Knoll, a former longtime Hal Leonard employee, and George Quinlan, President of Quinlan & Fabish Music Co., one of the country’s leading school music retailers and a longtime Hal Leonard supporter. Both of them are members of VanderCook’s Board of Trustees.

According to Mardak, “Over the years, my work at Hal Leonard has been widely supported by those in music education, and I want to help music education continue to flourish.”

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