Alumnus donates $6.5 million for new theater

Alumnus Howard Schrott has committed $6.5 million for a new center for performing and visual arts

Butler’s planned 450-seat theater and performing arts center will be named the Howard L. Schrott Center. Schrott, a 1976 alumnus, announced today that he will commit $6.5 million toward the $13 million project.

“This is something I’ve been working on with Butler over the last six to eight months,” Schrott said. “I feel incredibly exhilarated that we can finally talk about it today.”

Schrott, now a private consultant based in San Francisco, graduated from Butler with a degree in radio and television and a minor in business administration. He went on to law school at Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis and was the chief financial officer of several media companies from 1991-2006. Schrott was CFO of The Liberty Corporation in 2005, when the company was sold to Raycom Media for close to $1 billion.

“Over years, when I reflect back on how I came to be as fortunate as I’ve been, it was my decision to come to Butler that set trajectory for my career,” Schrott said.

This isn’t the first time Schrott has shown his appreciation to Butler through a gift. The Master Control Room in the Fairbanks Center is named for him, as is the newly endowed Schrott Lecture Series for the College of Communication. There is one gift Schrott didn’t remember giving, though.

“My first gift to Butler was a $10 check in 1979,” Schrott said. “I don’t remember it but it was on my giving record.

“I guess I’ve come along way since then.”

With his long history of giving, Schrott has developed close relationships within the office of university advancement. It was discussions with this office that led to his eventual commitment for the theater.

“The theatre is something that has been on the minds of people since I was there,” Schrott said.

When Schrott attended Butler in the 1970s, his radio and television major was part of what was then the Jordan College of Music. A mid-size theater was a topic of conversation then, but Schrott said it has evolved into something more today.

“When I saw what it had evolved into, where is was going to be and understand better the contributions an auditorium this size would be, not just to Butler and the community, but to the students in JCFA, it really caught my attention,” Schrott said.

“And sentimentally, I’m still a graduate of Jordan College of Fine Arts.”
The new building will be called the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Performing and Visual Arts. The groundbreaking for the project is set for this spring. Schrott’s gift will not only help build the center, but will be extended throughout his lifetime to help maintain it.

The gift is broken into three parts. Part of the commitment was given today, a series of future gifts has been planned throughout Schrott’s lifetime and it will culminate in a final estate gift.

“Butler has become an incredible institution,” Schrott said. “I want to continue to be a part of it, a be a part of it even when I’m not around.”