School of Music, Theatre
and Dance

Varner Hall, Room 207
371 Varner Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4485
(location map)
Academic Office: (248) 370-2030
Box Office: (248) 370-3013
Fax: (248) 370-2041

A graphic image of the exterior of Varner Hall at Oakland University.

Varner: Act II

The renovations of Varner Hall are a part of a $45 million campus improvement project, and the funding has already been secured.  While creating a modern, technically efficient facility is critical to the success of our students, there is still more that can be done to ensure their success.  This is the inspiration behind Varner: Act II.

The hope and enthusiasm that has lived within the walls of Varner Hall continues to transform into Varner: Act II, a celebration of past, present, and future students who aspire to be performing artists and educators.


Varner Hall opened in the 1970's as a hub for the performing arts on the campus of OU. Now after 50 years the building is undergoing renovations.

Video Copy:

Oakland University Classrooms - Office Buildings

Varner: Act II … coming soon…

October 21, 2022

Make a Donation

Join us in celebrating this historic time by supporting the students who make Varner Hall come to life through giving a gift to the Student Opportunity Fund or by naming a seat in the newly renovated Varner Recital Hall.

Gift of my choice to the Student Opportunity FundGift of $500 to name a Varner Recital Hall seat

Fundraising Impact

Varner: Act II is a special fundraising campaign, debuting in conjunction with a comprehensive renovation of Varner Hall that will create opportunities for students in the Oakland University School of Music, Theatre and Dance (SMTD) to reach new heights in the performing arts.

The student opportunity fund will support undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance and provide student enrichment experiences beyond the classroom.

These enrichment experiences are a critical component to success, especially in the competitive field of the performing arts, and also allow students to develop important skills such as collaboration and teamwork, creative authorship, design, global learning, civic engagement, critical thinking and the ability to learn from constructive criticism. Your support prepares students to flourish in the performing arts and contribute, in very meaningful ways, to our community and the world.

Varner Hall's History

Varner Hall opened in 1970, serving Oakland University’s Music, Theatre and Dance students through classrooms, rehearsal and performance spaces, administrative offices and, at one time, fine arts libraries. Oakland University’s first president D.B. “Woody” Varner and his wife Paula solidified performing arts as a staple on campus and in our surrounding community. Hence, OU’s first dedicated performing arts building took the name of Varner Hall.

This cultural core welcomed its first audience on Oct. 1st, 1970, and after more than 50 years, Varner Hall has earned an encore. Varner Hall is experiencing its most extensive renovations to date, including two 4,500-square-foot additions.

The hope and enthusiasm that has lived within its walls continues and is transforming into a new Varner – Varner: Act II.

Recognizing Your Support

Donors who make a gift of $1,000 or more during the Varner: Act II campaign will be honored on a donor recognition wall in the newly renovated Varner Hall. This new display will debut following the end of the campaign on December 31, 2023.

Message from the Dean

The College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce “Varner: Act II,” a special fundraising campaign designed to provide opportunities for students in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

Varner Hall is in the midst of a top to bottom renovation that will improve building maintenance in general and will also provide much needed enhancements to important student spaces such as practice rooms, actor dressing rooms and the costume shop. There will also be additions to both the Varner Recital Hall and Studio Theatre lobbies – providing a new and welcoming experience for students, faculty and community guests who attend our performances.

Since funding for the renovations are secured, we are pleased to use this project as a springboard to create the Student Opportunity Fund and launch a campaign for student success that will take place from September 2022 through December 2023. Enhanced student spaces combined with a substantial Student Opportunity Fund will provide significant opportunities for our students to reach their dreams!

Varner Hall opened in 1970, and the building was named for the university’s first president, D.B. Woody Varner. For more than 50 years, this historic building has been home to student dancers, actors and musicians as well as students of other disciplines. The hope and enthusiasm that has lived within its walls continues and is transformed into a new Varner – Varner: Act II.

I hope you will help uphold the performing and artistic traditions of SMTD by supporting the Student Opportunity Fund, and all of the students who will learn and work at Varner Hall in the years to come.


Elaine Carey, Ph.D. Dean College of Arts and Sciences

Seat Naming

For the first time ever, seats in the Varner Recital Hall are available for naming. Your gift to name a seat can celebrate your personal love for the arts, honor a loved one or be a surprise gift to the art lover in your life.

Your gift to name a seat will support the School of Music, Theatre and Dance Student Opportunity Fund. This fund will provide opportunities that will enrich the experiences of our students and nurture their creative ambitions.


How much does it cost to name a seat?

A seat may be named with a tax-deductible gift of $500.

Can I name a seat in honor of someone else?

Yes! You may customize your nameplate to include two lines of text with a maximum of 12 characters each.

May I choose the seat that I name?

No, we will choose a seat for you and let you know exactly where it is located.

What will I receive when I make a gift?

You will receive a personalized nameplate and a commemorative certificate that includes the row and seat number where your plate will be installed.

Is there a deadline to purchase a seat?

Yes, seats may be named any time during the Varner: Act II campaign which closes December 31, 2023.

Who can help me with a question?

Please reach out to Angela Robinson at or (248) 370-3183 or Millie Gervais at or (248) 364-6122