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Music and Performing Arts awarded $2M donation
Rebecca Mcmickell
Antelope Staff

The Department of Music and Performing Arts is boasting a bigger budget this year, thanks to an anonymous donor.

Last spring, the department received $2 million, the largest private donation in UNK music history according to Ron Crocker, professor of music and associate dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts.

A portion of the money will be used to permanently endow a chair in the music department, the Ronald J. Crocker Chair in Orchestra— after Crocker— who will be the first to hold the title.

“I’m excited about the potential that exists as a result of this,” Crocker said about receiving the donation. “The building process, in any organization, is something that takes many years, but if we were to compare the music department with who we were 20 years ago, or 50 years ago, you can see that we are immensely more capable as an institution.”

Throughout his 43 years at UNK, Crocker has been heavily involved in the College of Fine Arts, including positions as interim chair of the communications department and interim chair of art and art history, as well as his current position as interim chair of the theatre program.

Crocker also directs the Kearney Symphony Orchestra, which is made up of talented high school students and community members along with university students and faculty.

He said the donations will continue the success and growth of music at UNK, specifically the strings department and the KSO. A large portion, $1.4 million of the $2 million, is being used for 0scholarships to recruit gifted strings and piano players from across the country.

“Recruitment is one of our most important aspects of building the department,” Crocker said  These funds will help recruit qualified, talented string players, which will then benefit the orchestra.

It was awkward wording, better to paraphrase

The donor, who remains anonymous, is also offering an additional challenge grant of $100,000. The department would receive this money if other donors can provide $150,000. These funds would also be used primarily for recruiting.

Crocker has high hopes for the future of music at UNK and said the money will help strengthen the bond between the campus and community.

“The orchestra has become a part of the community identity,” he said. “This donation allows us to look into the future, make great strides. That is what excites me the most.”

Check out the Music & Performing Arts Department

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