The arts are a vital part of a liberal arts education
Hampden-Sydney College promotes the arts because they form a vital part of a liberal arts education. Recent evidence offered by the College Board suggests a correlation between learning in the fine arts and students' academic, emotional, and cultural development. Other research shows that study of the arts is a critical element in students' development of executive skills, such as planning and visualizing, and cognitive skills in mathematics, science, and foreign languages.
Engaging young men in learning
The College's main objective is engaging young men in learning, the most important role for the study of the arts here. We want to engage a greater number of our students to experience the rewards of making art and participating in cultural programming and to encourage them to develop more flexibility and creativity in their thinking about who and what they are, beyond the stereotypical and traditional views of masculinity. Through the arts, they learn how to work collaboratively, focus on problem-solving and be more flexible in thinking and attitude.
Viar-Christ Center for the Arts
The Joe Viar and Bonnie Christ Center for the Arts will be housed in a significantly renovated Winston Hall, which although it currently serves the Fine Arts Department, except theater, it also houses administrative offices and has had no major renovations since 1964.
The renovated building will be renamed Brinkley Hall in honor of John L. Brinkley '59 who taught at Hampden-Sydney College from 1967 to his retirement in 2007. Professor Brinkley was Hampden-Sydney's first Rhoads Scholar and after Oxford studied at Princeton University. Although his field was classics, not fine arts, his devotion was to engaging students in learning and to developing in them academic discipline and an appreciation of language, classical culture, and western civilization.
Joseph 'Joe' F. Viar
Joseph F. Viar came to Hampden-Sydney from E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, VA. At Hampden-Sydney, Viar was an outstanding athlete playing varsity football four years and captaining the team his senior year. He ran track, was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha, the Varsity Club, and the Tiger staff. He majored in physics and was a student assistant in both the physics and math departments. Upon graduation in 1963, Viar become a computer programmer in what was then an emerging field. He went on to be successful entrepreneur in technology.
Viar's generosity to the College has included scholarships, major contributions to Kirk Athletic Center and Crawley Forum, the College's principal lecture and performance space, and now the fine arts center which bears his name and that of his life partner. Viar's gift to the fine arts center further demonstrates his commitment to the education and development of the "whole man."
Other generous donors
The $4 million renovation of Winston Hall also received major funding from John G. Macfarlane III '76, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Roller-Bottimore Foundation, the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, and Everett A. Hellmuth III '75.