The Mukund S. Kulkarni Theatre at Penn State Harrisburg opened in August of 2016. The 355 seat theatre is housed inside the Student Enrichment Center (SEC) at the south end of the campus quad. The $4 million dollar Kulkarni Theatre is one of the most technologically advanced college theatres in the region, with an investment of nearly a half million dollars in a state-of-the-art LED lighting system and wireless digital sound system
Events and Programs
Since its opening, the Kulkarni Theatre has hosted a variety of events including: lectures, film showings, seminars, fully produced live theatre, dance, and music. It is the home of the Kulkarni Cultural Series, bringing in professional touring artists such as Gina Chavez, Nobuntu, Nai Ni Chen Dance Company, The Fitzgeralds, “Namaste India” and “Passion of Flamenco.” The theatre is the site of the inaugural PNC Thought Leaders Lecture series which has featured economic theory expert Richard Florida, researcher, writer and PBS host Stephen Johnson, shared business expert, Lisa Gansky and business strategist Martin Reeves. The Theatre has also hosted notable speakers such as: Sean Astin, Raymond Santana, Sue Klebold, Sara Koenig, John Quinones, Tarana Burke, Coach Carter, Dr. Mae Jemison, Dr. Guy Bluford, Dr. Phil Zimbardo, as well as pro football stars John Urschel and Wade Davis. The Penn State School of Humanities annually presents live theatre productions, choral and instrumental concerts. Past theatre productions have included: The Importance of Being Ernest, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, She Kills Monsters, Avenue Q, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Proof and Death of a Salesman. Penn State department and student affairs programs have included the Model United Nations program, World Fest,Penn State Harrisburg Reads, Steve Rudolph Quintet, and the “Defamation Experience. "
The Naming of the Kulkarni Theatre
Penn State Harrisburg officially dedicated the Student Enrichment Center theatre facility in honor of retired Chancellor Mukund S. Kulkarni in September of 2018. A plaque identifying his legacy and accomplishments hangs at the base of the staircase in the Student Enrichment Center. Here is a portion of the statement on the plaque:
“Dr. Mukund S. Kulkarni joined Penn State Harrisburg in 1985 as a faculty member in the School of Business Administration, and advanced in faculty rank and in leadership posts prior to becoming chancellor in 2010. He retired June 30, 2018.
Penn State Harrisburg experienced substantial growth in its student population, including a record number of international students, during Dr. Kulkarni’s tenure. He built upon the college’s reputation for attracting high-caliber students, highly credentialed faculty members, and dedicated staff members…
Dr. Kulkarni’s leadership was marked by a commitment to diversity and inclusiveness and the belief treating each other with respect and civility is paramount and that education is fullest when we learn from those around us, regardless of differences.”
The portion of the University endowment that benefits Penn State Harrisburg grew by more than $3 million thanks to recent gifts in the spring of 2018 honoring Dr. Kulkarni. The gifts support the naming of the Kulkarni Theatre; the Mukund S. Kulkarni Cultural Series Program Fund, which will support annual cultural programs and performances in the theatre; and scholarships through Penn State’s Open Doors Scholarship Matching Program.
“Facilities for arts and culture have been a dream of mine for years. This facility fills this major gap that existed on the campus and I am honored that it will bear my name,” Kulkarni said. “I am truly humbled by the generosity of many donors and the consideration given by the University.” Mukund S. Kulkarni, April 2018