Press Release

Gallagher Family Foundation pledges $1 million to renovation

The University of Northern Iowa’s Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center has received a $1 million gift from the family foundation whose name adorns the building. The Gallagher Family Foundation has pledged $1 million toward the estimated $14.5 million renovation of the 20-year-old facility.

“When the late Ed and Cathy Gallagher gave their original gift toward a performing arts center at UNI, they envisioned a facility that would serve as a beacon for arts and music—a cultural center that would enrich the quality of life across the Cedar Valley and the state of Iowa,” said UNI President Mark Nook. 

At the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center’s opening in 2000, it boasted nearly 100,000 square feet of space designed to host 140 events annually, serving 12,000-14,000 guests in a superb acoustical environment. Today the Gallagher Bluedorn hosts more than 600 events annually, serving more than 115,000 guests—an actual usage nearly 10 times the initial projection.

“The Gallagher Bluedorn has become a cultural centerpiece of the Cedar Valley since its opening,” said Steve Carignan, executive director of the Gallagher Bluedorn. “Each year this facility has showcased the world’s finest artists, ensembles of the UNI School of Music, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony and many other events and educational programs. The success of the facility is a direct result of the support the Gallaghers and other donors have provided the center since its inception.”

Cathy Gallagher is an alumna of the University of Northern Iowa. Her family has been longtime supporters of both UNI and the arts. The Gallagher Family Foundation, led by Ed and Cathy’s children and grandchildren, continues the family’s philanthropic legacy today.

“My parents believed that support of the arts in our community was a continuing responsibility,” said Edward J. Gallagher, III, president of the Gallagher Family Foundation. “The Gallagher Family Foundation is making this gift to ensure that a great place for the performing arts and community and university gatherings can be made even better.”

The Gallagher Bluedorn renovation and expansion will feature several event space additions to accommodate private dinners, rehearsals and small performances. Upgrades to the facility’s interior will modernize the box office, improve seating and provide a secured coat room and modern restrooms. Exterior improvements will create a drive lane for dropoff and increase energy efficiency. The project will be completed in three phases, creating approximately 15,000 square feet of new and renovated space.

“The renovation of the Gallagher Bluedorn will ensure patron amenities match the quality of the performances experienced in the Great Hall,” Carignan said.

With this gift to UNI’s performing arts center, the Great Hall in the Gallagher Bluedorn will be named the Catherine Cassidy Gallagher Great Hall.

“We are very appreciative of the Gallagher family for their continued support of both our university and the Cedar Valley,” Nook said. “Just like the Gallagher Bluedorn and the performances it hosts, this gift is an inspiration to our community. The renovated Gallagher Bluedorn will continue to strengthen and inspire UNI and the Cedar Valley for decades to come.”

The Gallagher Family Foundation’s gift was made to the University of Northern Iowa through the UNI Foundation. For more information about the UNI Foundation, visit

Contact: Sarah Parsons, UNI Advancement,, 319.273.2505