$1.3M gift to UNK music to support students, faculty

Contacts: Valerie Cisler, UNK Department of Music and Performing Arts, 308-865-8118,
cislerv@unk.edu; Robb Crouch, NU Foundation, 402-458-1142, rcrouch@nufoundation.org

Kearney, Neb., May 1, 2013 — The University of Nebraska at Kearney Department of Music and Performing Arts has received a $1.3 million gift from an anonymous donor to bolster student scholarships, faculty support and more. The surprise end-of-school-year gift made to the University of Nebraska Foundation, when joined with past support from the same benefactor, brings the donor’s total support of the music program to more than $4.7 million.

“This amazing gift could not have come at a better time as we celebrate the accomplishments of our students and faculty during commencement week,” said UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen. “We are again extremely grateful for this donor’s generosity. This gift represents continued and meaningful investment in our quality music education and performance programs, the impact of which will be felt for decades to come.”

This is how the recent gift benefits the music department:

  • A $600,000 permanent endowment named the Lavern Clark Memorial Vocal Scholarship Fund to provide annual scholarships for undergraduates studying vocal music. It’s named in honor of Lavern Clark, a longtime Kearney resident and devoted patron of community arts who died in 2001.


  • A $500,000 permanent endowment named the Mildred Lantz Macdonald Collaborative Piano Fund to support the salaries of UNK staff pianists who accompany students during public performances, instruction, rehearsals, auditions, competitions and more. It’s named in honor of UNK faculty emeritus Mildred A. Macdonald of Kearney who taught piano from 1958 to 1985. Known to the UNK community as “Millie,” Macdonald continues to live in Kearney and regularly attends performances by students and faculty in the music department.


  • A $100,000 permanent endowment named the Frahm-Lewis Trio Support Fund to support UNK’s faculty piano and strings chamber ensemble by the same name to help with purchasing music, event promotion, travel, performance fees and more. It is named in honor of longtime teacher and musician Bettelee Frahm Lewis who has played with the Kearney Symphony Orchestra since 1941.


  • An additional $100,000 was given to the Lavern Clark Memorial Woodwinds Scholarship, a fund created in 2010 by the same anonymous donor to provide student scholarship support.

Valerie Cisler, professor of music and chair of the Department of Music and Performing Arts, said it has been a pleasure to work with the donor over the past few months to identify key needs in the areas of student, faculty and staff support.

“Our music students and faculty are so grateful for this extraordinary gift that is certain to have a significant impact on the quality of our programs,” Cisler said. “Most impressive is our donor’s wish to honor longtime distinguished musician-educators from the Kearney and UNK community by designating the endowments in their names. I can think of no higher form of generosity.”

According to the University of Nebraska Foundation, much of the donor’s more than $4.7 million in total support for the music department has established permanently endowed funds that provide annual support for student scholarships and academic music programs. The total donations comprise the largest private support received in history for the music department.

These gifts to the music department also support the University of Nebraska’s current fundraising initiative, Campaign for Nebraska: Unlimited Possibilities, which includes a goal to raise $50 million for UNK.

The University of Nebraska Foundation is an

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independent, nonprofit organization raising private gifts to support the University of Nebraska for more than 75 years. In 2012, donors provided the university with $165 million for scholarships, medical and other research, academic programs, faculty and buildings. All foundation funds are donor designated. The foundation’s current comprehensive fundraising campaign, the Campaign for Nebraska, concludes in 2014. For more information, visit campaignfornebraska.org.