Grant to create local Purdue music school

September 21st, 2017

By Ron Shawgo | The Journal Gazette

IPFW's music school has received a $1 million boost as it transitions to Purdue University's sole music program.

The English Bonter Mitchell Foundation donated the money to help create the Purdue School of Music on the Fort Wayne campus, IPFW announced Wednesday. The donation will serve as a catalyst for a “top music program,” according to a news release.

The grant will help fund new degrees in music technology and jazz performance studies; a graduate program in music therapy and music education; post-baccalaureate international performers certificate; national music festivals and symposia on campus; real-world experience in Nashville; and a world-class recording studio in the Rhinehart Music Center.

“English Bonter Mitchell has been a great supporter of the university in many ways, contributing more than $6.3 million over the years, and this gift shows its continued commitment to student success and higher education in our region,” IPFW Chancellor Vicky Carwein said in the release.

“We look forward to being able to continually offer exceptional opportunities to our talented students who will become future musicians and contributors to our community and beyond.”

Purdue and Indiana universities will end their IPFW alliance next summer. IU will have a lower profile and focus on health sciences. Purdue will handle all other academic programs. That means the IPFW music school will move from IU's renowned program to Purdue, which currently offers no music degree.

“For years, our university has housed tremendous vocal, instrumental, and music technology programs,” Greg Jones, chair and professor of music, said in the release.

“As the campus takes a new place in the Purdue family, an unprecedented opportunity exists to make history by growing the Department of Music into a School of Music, the first in Purdue University's history.”

The English, Bonter, Mitchell Foundation was established in 1972 as a tribute to Dr. Calvin English, the first medical director of the Lincoln National Life Insurance Co.

“English Bonter Mitchell is excited about the future of Purdue Fort Wayne and to come alongside the university as they envision the first Purdue School of Music,” said Mike Eikenberry, foundation chairman.

“Our foundation embraces projects that will enhance our community. For the university to build a premier School of Music, it will bring notoriety to Fort Wayne, to the northeast region, and beyond. We look forward to seeing the progress ahead for this institution.”

Goals for the new music school include:

  • A new degree that will allow for interdisciplinary paths in sound recording technology, music business, and commercial music
  • Expanding the existing jazz minor into a degree in jazz performance studies
  • Developing new graduate programs in music therapy and music education
  • A first-of-its-kind post-baccalaureate international performers certificate that combines applied and ensemble training with English as a second language training.

John O'Connell, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, said the grant is a recognition of the department's “superb” faculty and will enhance the school's reputation “as we have been doing steadily in the last three to five years.”

The funds will be used to increase music festivals and workshops on campus, provide student performances at regional, national, and international venues, and “enrich partnerships” with local musical instrument retailer Sweetwater Sound “to offer students distinctive experiences in sound recording, business, and live sound production.”

Angie Fincannon, vice chancellor for advancement, called the gift “transformational.”

“I truly believe that this bold gesture of support models a partnership that can make a tremendous impact on this community and appreciate the foundation's support and encouragement,” she said.