McPherson Hall opened as IWU’s first modern production and instructional facility for Theatre on April 17, 1963. Prior to the Hall, a carriage house adjacent to Kemp Hall had been in use since 1949. This building is named for Harry W. McPherson, IWU President (1933-37), long-time Trustee and member of the Class of 1907. More information about him is available in his presidential blog post.
The Melba Johnson Kirkpatrick Laboratory Theatre and Jerome Mirza Theatre are part of the McPherson Theatre Arts department.
Kirkpatrick was a 1932 IWU graduate and headed the University’s Drama Department from 1938 to 1943. A champion of the arts in Bloomington for several decades, she received both the McLean County Women of Distinction Award and Illinois Wesleyan’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
The theatre in Illinois Wesleyan’s McPherson Hall was named the Jerome Mirza Theatre in recognition of a $2.5 million gift to the School of Theatre Arts (SoTA) from the Jerome Mirza Foundation in October 2015.
A 1960 graduate of Illinois Wesleyan, Mirza (1937-2007) was a well-known Bloomington and Chicago trial attorney, who often credited his courtroom success to the theatre training he received at Illinois Wesleyan. See the press release for more information.