Art class where student is watching teacher on pottery wheel
Winger helps us access the arts

onstructed in 1952, Otho Winger Memorial Hall sits not-so-quietly on East Street. At almost any hour of the day, sounds of instruments tuning can be heard by those passing outside. A haven for the arts at Manchester, Winger provides a space for students to express themselves and explore their creativity.

Junior Danielle Carlson is an active member of the Spartan Pride Marching Band and has spent plenty of time in Winger. Though the marching band does not hold practices in Winger, Carlson often uses the space when meeting with their director or friends.

One of their earliest Manchester memories was visiting campus for just the second time during their Music at Manchester weekend, when future MU students meet music faculty and current students, tour the facilities and audition for ensembles.

“I was anxious,” Carlson said. “But the moment I walked into Winger I saw the Music Department staff and some of the other Music Department students and I felt really welcomed. I ended up having an amazing two days here, and it was a big part of my decision to come to Manchester, because of the experiences those days brought.”

Kendall Brown ’22, who graduated in May and now works as Manchester’s peace studies coordinator, also had her first visit during Music at Manchester. “The first time I got to know a lot of people at Manchester was in that space,” Brown said.

Brown played bassoon in the Manchester Symphony Orchestra, and appreciates Winger’s dedicated practice spaces for non-music majors.

Jeff Diesburg, associate professor of art, is in his twelfth year at Manchester and teaches in Winger every semester. “The Art Department’s studio courses have specific requirements that are hard to meet in other spaces,” Diesburg said. “Ceramics, for example, cannot be taught anywhere else on campus.”

Long hallway with wood paneling walls and pictures
Teacher and student playing saxophone and looking at music stand
Winger is cherished by those who use its space, which makes the need for replacements and renovations that much greater.

The building has become less and less functional with age and remains inaccessible for many students. “For students who aren’t able to take the stairs, they are often told they aren’t able to take specific classes that would be taking place in upper floors of Winger,” Carlson said.

Without any elevators, art exhibit pieces and heavy musical equipment must be carried up and down steep flights of stairs as well, which risks damage.

Recently, a stair lift was added in Winger to help those who cannot climb the stairs to reach upper levels of the building, but more is needed to make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Heat is another concern. In the early and late months of the school year, closest to summer, air conditioning is a necessity. A specific climate is vital in a building housing art projects and musical instruments and equipment.

Students wearing masks in art class sitting in front of easel while art teacher is talking
Female student and teacher intently looking at what probably work
“If you have a reed instrument, when the temperature fluctuates a lot, your tone fluctuates,” Brown said. “I remember I would go there in September my freshman year, and it was so hot that I could only be in there for ten minutes.”

Not only will updating Winger improve the conditions students who regularly use the space work in, it will also invite more current Manchester students to the building and help recruit prospective students who are interested in programs such as art, graphic design, photography, choir, band or symphony.

Rick Mishler ’74 and his wife Deb generously gave a leadership gift to the Winger renovation. “Their leadership gift was made in honor of Rick’s late sister Cathy (Mishler) Gillam who also graduated from Manchester in 1981 with a degree in music,” said Melanie Harmon, vice president for advancement. “We are incredibly grateful for their generosity and for the many ways they continue to support our students. The Mishlers have always carried out their leadership philanthropy in ways that remind me of Nelson Mandela’s words: ‘Lead from the back – and let others believe they are in front.’”

Like many other students involved in music and art, Carlson has loved the “built-in family” that comes from being in the arts at Manchester.

“It’s an atmosphere where you can look any direction and have a shoulder to cry on or someone to help push you to do better,” Carlson said. “Winger gives a place to build those connections. Core academic classes are amazing sources, but the familial feel you get in the arts can’t be matched.”

The goal is $5 million
With your help, Winger can be updated, making the building more functional and fully accessible for all students, faculty, staff and visitors who use it. This project will help fund renovations including classrooms with proper acoustics and surround-sound equipment, art classrooms with important safety features, a new HVAC system, and dedicated technology classroom and laboratory space for graphic design.