Fryxell Humanities Center

The newly named Fryxell Humanities Center will honor a legacy of teaching.

Whether studying the creative work of great authors or learning how to create messages that inform and persuade, whether creating a global consciousness through developing skills in language or understanding that consciousness through the creative lenses of philosophers, whether seeking to know the whole of God’s creation through theology or celebrating that creation in song, creativity is the hallmark of the humanities at Augustana.

“Creative” defines what students of the humanities do and the way in which they do it. All of this creativity has a home in Augustana’s Humanities Center. But, prior to 2019, that space no longer reflected the quality of the work done there or the passion with which that work is pursued. Following the succssful completion of Horizons 2019, the University RECREATED its Humanities Center.

The humanities are key to studying the liberal arts. In fact, at some point in their academic lives, all Augustana students pass through the hallways of this building to take their religion and English classes. The majority of First Year Seminar courses are also taught in the Center. Since one-quarter of AU students participate in instrumental and choral music ensembles, they fill the halls, rehearsal rooms and practice studios throughout the music wing.

When the Center was dedicated in September 1971 at a cost of $2.1 million, it brought together a division that previously had offices and classrooms scattered throughout campus. Dr. Don Fryxell, Shakespeare scholar, fierce proponent of the liberal arts, and former English department and Humanities Division chair, was the central figure in the planning and design of the new building.

Augustana reached its goal to raise $3 million to refurbish the Center to create a more contemporary, functional and attractive learning environment in the classrooms, studios, performance venue, rehearsal rooms and public spaces. The successful completion of  this effort resulted in naming the Humanities Center after Drs. Don and Lucy Fryxell.

“The legacy lies naturally with Don and Lucy Fryxell. They came to Augustana and spent a lifetime of remarkable teaching, forging the way for this building to come into existence.”
— Dr. Sandra Looney ’62, professor of English 

In addition to the classrooms, the academic suites, housing the offices for each department within the humanities division were upgraded with new furnishings and gathering spaces for faculty-student collaboration and study.

The recreated Fryxell Humanities Center accurately displays the quality of the faculty and the talented students who are drawn here. It showcases the creativity that takes place throughout its halls and elevates Augustana’s appeal to prospective students.

“We say Augustana is preparing students for the 21st  century — we need to be in a  space that shows that. This is a necessary part of the ongoing process of addressing education for the 21st century and ensuring this campus is as attractive — and as  usable — as it possibly can be.”
— Dr. Jeffrey Miller, chair, humanities division

The most notable improvements took place in the music wing. These renovations included a complete overhaul of the former Kresge Recital Hall that was renamed Hamre Recital Hall in honor of the benefactors’ parents, Melvin and Ruth Hamre. In addition, updates were made to the lower level practice rooms, the Lillehaug Instrumental Rehearsal Room, named after former music professor and director of bands, Dr. Leland Lillehaug ’51, and the newly named Winden Choral Rehearsal Room, named for benefactors Art ‘54 and Mary Winden, retired educators whose love for music inspired their gift.

“We’ve focused on attracting and retaining the best faculty. The physical structure of the building, the classrooms, offices and rehearsal spaces should also reflect that. This is a physical manifestation of the pride this institution places on the arts.”
— Dr. John Pennington, former chair of the music department