The building rises above Ryders Lane and Route 18 and serves the conservatory’s Music, Dance, and Theater departments, providing additional rehearsal and performance spaces.
East Brunswick native and Mason Gross theater alum Kevin Goetz, the CEO of entertainment-industry market-research firm Screen Engine, returns to campus to host the opening celebration, set for Sept. 12.
“Mason Gross was a very important turning point for me as an artist, actor, and as a human being,” says Goetz, whom the Los Angeles Times termed “the Doctor of Audience-ology” and included among “the 100 most powerful and influential people in Southern California.”
Goetz financed The Kevin Goetz Studio for Theater and Dance and is the first Mason Gross alum in the school’s 37-year history to award a significant gift.
“I feel it is my responsibility to maintain the school that so inspired me. I want to keep Mason Gross successful and thriving so that other young artists have the same opportunity that I was afforded,” he said.
The building, named for Rutgers College Class of 1963 alumnus Bob Mortensen, features the Richard H. Shindell Choral Hall, a public atrium that includes Cafe ’52 coffee, sandwich, and bubble tea bar, and a technology studio for sound recording and engineering, the first of its kind on campus. The space also houses The Presser Foundation Practice Suite for music and a suite of faculty and administrative offices for the Dance Department.
Mason Gross School Dean George B. Stauffer says that the building “represents a new precious resource for Mason Gross. It offers magnificent opportunities for our students as well as the aspiring young artists of the Extension Division,” which offers classes to the surrounding community. “Mortensen Hall is a giant leap forward for the arts at Rutgers.”
Dance student Caitlyn Farrell agrees.
“Dancers develop a close relationship to the studios since we are there every day for many hours at a time,” she says. “As dancers, it's so important to feel comfortable in the space that we train in, and this additional room will give us the freedom to create and explore in class.”“For the first time, there will be a home for the choral program,” says Mortensen, a longtime supporter of the Music Department and its choral activities, as well as a onetime member of the Rutgers University Glee Club. Mortensen says he’s especially happy that the hall, which features The Thomas A. and Elizabeth M. Renyi Art Gallery, the tree-lined Regina B. Heldrich Courtyard, as well as plenty of communal spaces for students and faculty to relax, eat, and study in, will serve as “a unifying facility for the entire campus.”
--Mason Gross School of the Arts