Illinois Wesleyan Receives $2.5 Million for School of Theatre Arts

Illinois Wesleyan University has announced a $2.5 million gift from the Jerome Mirza Foundation to its School of Theatre Arts.

A 1960 graduate of the university, Jerome Mirza (1937-2007) was a well-known Bloomington and Chicago trial attorney who often credited his courtroom success to the theater training he received at Illinois Wesleyan. He earned his law degree at the University of Illinois College of Law in 1963 and, upon passing the Illinois bar exam, returned to Bloomington to practice law, where he later founded Jerome Mirza and Associates.

Mirza served as president of both the Illinois State Bar Association and Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, was a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates and a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the International Society of Barristers, and the American Board of Trial Advocates. He also served as a member of the University of Illinois College of Law's Board of Visitors and hosted the Jerome Mirza College of Advocacy at Illinois Wesleyan and later at the University of Illinois. In recognition of the gift, the theater in McPherson Hall has been named the Jerome Mirza Theatre.

"The Mirza Theatre will be an enduring reminder of Jerry Mirza's passion for the arts and his affection for his alma mater," said Illinois Wesleyan president Richard F. Wilson. "We are indebted to the Mirza Foundation for this very generous gift. A portion of the gift will go toward improvements in the Mirza Theatre over the next few years, with the remaining funds used to establish an endowment to enhance the quality of the school's programs and facilities over time."

"Mirza Foundation Makes $2.5 Million Gift to IWU Theatre Program." Illinois Wesleyan University Press Release 10/26/2015.