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A New Verse in a Lifetime of Philanthropy

"Stanley often told me 'If I had a million dollars, I'd give it to Jim.' So it means a great deal to me to fulfill Stanley's dream of making a $1 million commitment to the College of Music."

Selma Hollander portrait

A New Verse in a Lifetime of Philanthropy

Selma Hollander’s long history of giving back to Michigan State is like a campus treasure map of the musical, theatrical, academic, and artistic experiences that have brought joy to her life and the life she shared with her husband, the late MSU professor Stanley Hollander.

The Hollanders’ philanthropy ripples through MSU’s cultural scene, from a gallery in the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum to endowments that support scholarships, lectures, and enrichment through the arts.

Selma’s latest commitment—$1 million to support the Music Pavilion and renovation—is both a tribute to her husband’s passion for the musical arts and a fulfillment of a long-held dream.

“Stanley’s first musical experience was going to the opera at the age of eight and he loved it from then on,” she says. “Our first date was to see Coppélia at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, and we always loved going to performances together.”

Over years of enjoying many MSU musical experiences, the Hollanders became great friends with Jim Forger, the dean of the College of Music.

“Stanley often told me, ‘If I had a million dollars, I’d give it to Jim,’” Selma says. “So it means a great deal to me to fulfill Stanley’s dream of making a $1 million commitment to the College of Music.”

Selma and Stanley came to MSU in 1958, when Stanley was offered a faculty position in the Department of Marketing. Both were East Coast natives, dazzled by their new hometown, and eager to get involved in the arts. Selma earned herself a bachelor’s and master’s degree in art in 1962 and 1965, respectively, and joined the faculty in home economics, where she taught weaving, crafts, and fabric design.

At 100 years old, she has long since retired from teaching, but she hasn’t stopped making art, and she certainly hasn’t stopped enjoying all that MSU has to offer.

Her own artwork is currently on display at the Wharton Center (Selma Hollander: Retrospective, works from 1960-2017 runs through November 26). She regularly takes in exhibits at the Broad Art Museum, Department of Theatre productions at Fairchild Theatre, as well as performances and lectures at Wharton Center. And chances are, if there’s a recital or concert happening at the College of Music, she’s there with friends.

“I am an artist, and I love all types of art. But I’ve realized that music is the only art that is capable of bringing me to tears,” she says. “I was at a piano performance on campus recently, and I looked around, and realized I was the only one crying. It was so beautiful.”

The College of Music, which currently benefits from eight Hollander endowments that support music students, will name the Stanley and Selma Hollander Opera/Choral/Student Recital Hall in honor of this most recent gift—which came at exactly the right time.

“Selma and Stanley continue to change lives through their passion for attending and supporting the arts,” says Forger. “We are overwhelmed with Selma’s generosity in providing a gift of $1 million, which will name a newly conceived space that will be the home of the vocal arts (opera and choral rehearsal), student recitals, and space for classroom teaching. The gift that began with Stanley’s love of vocal music will facilitate a hall with wonderful acoustics supporting the work of young talented students for generations to come.”

To explore options for making a gift to the project, contact Senior Director of Development Rebecca Surian at or call (517) 353-9872.