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Taylor University Receives $5 Million Gift from Sweetwater Founders Chuck and Lisa Surack

  • By: James R. Garringer
  • Published:
smiling couple outside home

Upland, Indiana, April 7, 2022 – Taylor University announced today it has received a $5 million gift from Charles “Chuck” and Lisa Surack of Fort Wayne. The gift is designated for the construction of a new facility that will house the University’s award-winning Film & Media Program and entrepreneurial and innovation hub.

“Taylor University has been a place of innovation and creativity for 175 years, and we are blessed to have members of the extended Taylor family who are exemplars in this regard,” said Taylor's President, D. Michael Lindsay. “What Chuck and Lisa Surack have done, through and with Sweetwater, is precisely the kind of entrepreneurial energy we want our students to embrace and embody.”

Chuck Surack founded Sweetwater Sound in 1979, as a four-track recording studio that was housed in the back of his Volkswagen bus. A few years later, Surack gained a national reputation for his skills with the Kurzweil K250 synthesizer, while providing custom sound design and recording studio consulting to many well-known artists. Since its founding, Sweetwater has grown to be the number one online retailer of music instruments and pro-audio equipment in the United States.

The Suracks are recognized as leading philanthropists in northeast Indiana where they have served in numerous volunteer roles and regularly give to over 600 organizations annually with a special focus on the critical importance of mental health, child and family services, music and the arts, and economic development.

In 2018, Surack received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Taylor University in recognition of his contributions to the State of Indiana and his example as a Christian businessman and community leader. He recently joined Taylor’s Board of Visitors, a volunteer leadership group that advises the president and other campus leaders. The Suracks' gift was announced today at Taylor’s semi-annual Board of Visitors meeting.

In recognition of the Surack’s generosity, the new building will be home to the Surack Center for Entrepreneurship and Media Arts — an academic area that will be a model for equipping young men and women to make a difference in their communities.

The facility will offer areas designated for entrepreneurship development, a focus for Taylor University; and provide dedicated space for Film and Media Production students to master the tools and technology changing and shaping lives. Taylor’s Film & Media Program has won more than 600 awards, including CINEs, Tellys, and multiple recognitions from the regional Emmy organization. This year, Taylor received its first national College Television Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in Hollywood.

Taylor hopes to break ground on the new home for Film & Media and Entrepreneurship later in 2022.

To support this project or other Taylor initiatives, visit