Organ program gets professorship gift in Town's honor

12:25:34 PM CDT - Monday, May 09, 2005

Two years ago, Robert Town, longtime associate professor of organ in the School of Music, made an estate gift to provide for an endowed professorship to continue his beloved organ program at WSU.

But, thanks to Wichitans Dr. Dennis and Ann Ross, the program will have an endowed professorship upon Town's retirement this summer. The gift was given in Town's honor.

Town has plans to remain as an adjunct professor within the School of Music while a search is conducted to hire a renowned professor to take over the program.

The professorship created by the Rosses' gift will move to another area within the School of Music when Town's estate gift is received and an endowed professorship gift is established in his name.

The Rosses' gift, which was announced at the last Rie Bloomfield Organ Series concert of the 2004-05 season, qualifies for the faculty of distinction program. In the faculty of distinction program, which was created by the Legislature, the state supplements a gift annually with the interest it earns on the same amount of the original gift. The original gift must be at least $350,000.

"This is one of the most important gifts the college has ever received," said Rodney Miller, dean of the College of Fine Arts. "With this gift, WSU's Marcussen Organ, one of the finest in the country, if not the world, will be utilized to its fullest potential in preparing exceptional organ professionals for the future."

"Like a violin in the hands of a master, the organ can only produce beautiful music when played by a professional organist," said Ann Ross, who along with her husband has been interested in liturgical and organ music for a long time. "The number of such talented individuals has declined nationwide in recent years. Our goal is to preserve the traditional beauty of liturgical and classical music."

- Compiled by Amy Geiszler-Jones

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