About the Nazarian Center
The dedication of The John Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts on September 15, 2000 marked the beginning of a new era of excellence in the performing and the fine arts at Rhode Island College. This facility symbolizes the College's enduring commitment to its students and to the community.
This $10 million facility was primarily underwritten by a general obligation bond issue approved by voters in November 1996. It was designed to provide appropriate teaching and learning spaces for faculty and students at the College, as well as high quality performance spaces for student and professional productions, thereby expanding cultural opportunities for the people of Rhode Island.
Featured prominently in the design of the Center are a number of original artifacts that were preserved from the College's previous home, the former Rhode Island State Normal School building that was dedicated in 1898. Many will remember this grand edifice, located on a rise near the foot of the State House overlooking Downtown Providence, with its impressive polished granite columns and graceful arches, yellow brick exterior, and terra cotta lions that gazed down from the building's cornices. The actual columns and lions have been incorporated into the new Center, and the design of the main entrance is influenced by the arches and yellow brick of the College's earlier home.
While the design of the Center pays tribute to the College's nearly 150-year tradition of academic excellence, the name of the Center honors an individual who began his association with the College as an incoming freshman in 1950 and who, for more than a half century, has served the institution as a student, a member of the faculty, an administrator and for more than twelve years as its President.
In November 1998, at the groundbreaking for the Center, Governor Lincoln Almond recommended that the new facility be named in honor of President John Nazarian. The Board of Governors for Higher Education and General Assembly concurred, and in the spring of 1999, the name became official by an act of the General Assembly.
In the fall of 1999, even as construction work continued on the rest of the site, one wing of the building was opened to accommodate music students and faculty. Once the project was completed, the entire facility was dedicated to serve the College community and the people of Rhode Island.