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Butler Magazine

Deeply Rooted: Patricia Brennan See ’74

Patricia "Patsy" See '74

By Cindy Conover Dashnaw

"It's About Time."

That’s how Patricia Brennan See ’74 reacted when she heard that Butler’s vision for its Arts Center is to become Central Indiana’s arts and culture destination.

“Butler has had a stellar—and I mean stellar—arts program for decades, and it’s been under wraps. Now, we’re coming into our own,” said this alum and member of the Jordan College of the Arts (JCA) Board of Visitors. “It’s time to get out there and show ourselves as the fantastic school we are.”

See generously supports ArtsFest and the Butler Community Arts School. And though she wasn’t an arts major, her family tree is as firmly rooted in the arts as it is in Butler.

Her father and mother were amateur actors during her childhood, and “Patsy,” as family and friends call her, was active in high school theatre. When it came time for college, she and her brother followed in dad’s footsteps by attending his alma mater; Robert Brennan holds Butler degrees in Music and Pharmacy.

He also taught here for 18 years, some of which overlapped his children’s time as students. And nine years after her graduation, See joined him on Butler’s faculty.

After a career focused on speech and communication, See felt the bite of the theatre bug once her three children were grown.

“I got involved in the local (Zionsville, Indiana) community theatre. And because I can’t do anything halfway, I worked on 19 shows in a row and did everything except costuming,” she said. “I’ve relaxed a little bit now, except that this week, my husband and I are doing lights and sound for a children’s play.”

“Relaxed” meant getting involved in Butler arts again when an old classmate popped up on Facebook: Howard Schrott, the arts supporter after which the Howard L. Schrott Center is named.

“Howard introduced me to Ron Caltabiano (Dean of the Jordan College of the Arts), and I thought his vision for Butler was long overdue,” See said. “I don’t have relationships with institutions. I have relationships with individuals at institutions. So after talking with Ron and those who support him, I was glad to get involved.”

See believes wholeheartedly in the quality of the arts at Butler and in the value of the arts in education.

“There’s no other discipline on earth that teaches you who you are—not only who you are, but who you are in relation to other people. My friend Lynn Manning says, ‘Art is the ultimate team sport.’ You find out how to work with other people in intricate ways, and you learn so much about yourself,” she said.

She pointed out that plenty of research shows the arts enhance every other discipline.

“Teaching the arts is integral to the proliferation of artistic expression,” See said. “The arts are cut and cut and cut from schools, yet there has to be some place that will continue to offer them.”

She believes Butler emphasizes excellence, expertise, and depth of knowledge to a degree no other school can match.

“Even just building the Schrott Center has elevated all the arts at Butler. It’s one of those rare places where you can do music, dance, and theatre all in one place because of the adaptability of the space. Now, with Studio 168, blackbox spaces, Clowes, the Schrott—whatever you want to do, you can do it in one of our spaces.

We’re starting to have a coordinated vision for the arts together. Butler’s Arts Center is just a gold mine of artistic expression.