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Kenneth Beachler, founding executive director of MSU's Wharton Center, has died at 87

 black and white photo of Ken Beachler
Wharton Center for Performing Arts

Updated June 9, 2023 at 9:42 a.m. ET

The first executive director of Michigan State University’s Wharton Center has died at age 87.

Kenneth Beachler oversaw the opening of the performing arts center and led the facility from 1981 to 1992.

He graduated from Michigan State in 1963. After that, he served as a host for WKAR-TV and as Music Program Director for WKAR radio.

Eric Olmscheid is the current executive director of the Wharton Center. He says Beachler instilled a commitment to quality and accessibility that his staff tries to uphold today.

“It’s a huge loss for us," Olmscheid said. "But more so, we want to really just really celebrate, I think we want to celebrate his career and commitment to the arts.”

Olmscheid says Beachler remained active in the Lansing community after his time as Wharton’s director.

“Almost every organization, every performing arts organization in this community has some sort of connection with Ken Beachler."

The MSU Wharton Center is a financial supporter of WKAR.

Correction: A previous version of this story misattributed a quote from Eric Olmscheid to Kenneth Beachler. This has been corrected.

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