The University of Texas at Dallas’ School of Arts, Humanities and Technology plans to use a $40 million donation to expand the school and help fund the construction of the Athenaeum.

As part of the donation, the school will be renamed the Harry W. Bass Jr. School of Arts, Humanities, and Technology, effective at the start of the 2023-24 school year. The gift was provided by The Bass Foundation, which is a nonprofit that provides funding for local education, arts, science, civic and human services initiatives, according to a news release.

“The impact of this gift is quite transformative because it's kind of the gift that keeps on giving,” said Nils Roemer, Bass School dean and the arts, humanities and technology distinguished university chair, in the release. “This will allow us to accelerate the building of our new performance hall, and will provide us the ability to enable and empower our students and our faculty with better programming.”

Roemer said the donation will allow UT Dallas to offer additional scholarships and fellowships for its student base, which he estimated is made up of 20% first-time students and 45% transfer students. In addition, he hopes to offer further study experiences, including study abroad and internships, for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Being able to offer more comprehensive learning opportunities for students will not only benefit those enrolled at UT Dallas, but also enhance the process of hiring quality educators.

“When it comes to hires, it's not just a question of hiring more faculty, but also supporting existing faculty better,” Roemer said. “We think that offering new experience and fellowships will provide the university better help and assistance for our many centers, labs and studios.”

The combined arts, humanities and technology school, which debuted during the 2022-23 school year, was created to expand previously offered curriculum centered on arts education.

UT Dallas’ school of arts and humanities was established in 1975 with a technology-focused arts curriculum being split off into its own school in 2015. The vision for the merged school has been discussed by UT Dallas officials since 2019.

A portion of the gift will also provide funding for the second phase of the upcoming Edith and Peter O’Donnell Jr. Athenaeum, a new cultural district located on approximately 12 acres on campus. With the first phrase under construction, the second phase of the project includes a 53,000-square-foot performance venue with a 600-seat concert hall, choral and orchestra rehearsal rooms, classrooms, and office space.

According to Roemer, the performance venue is now designed to house arts students and the Bass School music faculty once it is completed. He said the first phase of the Athenaeum, which includes a second location for the Crow Museum of Asian Art and a parking garage, is expected to be unveiled by the start of the 2024-25 school year with the performance venue open a year later.

According to university officials, a campus celebration for the newly named school is planned to take place in the fall, but no date has been announced.