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History of the Schlesinger Center


The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center at NOVA's Alexandria Campus opened in September 2001. Community-wide discussions between the College and local arts groups in the early 1990s led to the concept for a premier performing arts center on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. As plans for the Center developed, details were added to the building design so it could accommodate large performance groups, yet remain affordable for local nonprofit groups.

Fundraising for the Schlesinger Center began in 1993 and was led by the Campaign Management Committee for the Alexandria/Arlington Cultural Center. One of the leaders of the Campaign committee was Rachel M. Schlesinger, a violinist and board member of the Arlington Symphony. Mrs. Schlesinger's love for music began at an early age and continued through her years at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, her marriage to former Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Energy, Dr. James R. Schlesinger and the birth of her eight children. Mrs. Schlesinger worked tirelessly to raise money for the Center, but never saw the dream become a reality. She died in October 1995.

In 1996, Dr. Schlesinger donated $1 million to name the Center in his wife's memory. Dozens of local corporations, foundations and individual donors generously contributed additional funds to build the kind of first-rate facility that audiences in this area have come to expect.

If you would like to make a donation, please contact NOVA's Educational Foundation at 703.323.3023 or via email at jruffino@nvcc.edu.