UT Martin’s more than 35,000 alumni, friends and donors already know that this university is a world-class institution. However, how many times in our history has UT Martin had the opportunity to become one of only 120 in the world? The All-Steinway Campaign will allow this campus to achieve just such a distinction. Currently, only two other public universities in the state of Tennessee have become All-Steinway Schools: ETSU and MTSU. An All-Steinway School is an educational institution in which students perform and are taught mostly on Steinway pianos.
Because of the thoughtful planning and foresight of the Department of Music and the UT Martin administration, only about $600,000 more is needed in order to reach the goal. This campaign would not be feasible without private support, as well as the commitment of the university. The administration has invested in rebuilding nine pianos over the last seven years, guided by recommendations from the Rev. Elwood Doss, UT Martin’s piano technician. Doss is an 18-year veteran who will be traveling to the Steinway factory to become an officially certified tuner with Steinway & Sons. Already major commitments have been made by Bill and Roberta Blankenship, of Sandestin, Fla., who have become avid champions of the cause. As chairpersons of the campaign to become an All-Steinway School, they have purchased a seven-foot grand piano, as well as a number of uprights. When asked to comment on the importance of the campaign, Bill said, “Becoming an All-Steinway school elevates the image of the university. This powerful asset aids in recruitment of stellar music and music education students placing the emphasis on student development.”
An additional grand piano was also purchased recently by Robert and Virginia Gibson from Union City in honor of the pianist at their church, Michael Yandell, who is also a UT Martin senior music major. Only 15 additional uprights are now needed in order for UT Martin to reach All-Steinway status. Two additional faculty and practice uprights have been purchased by Betty and Newell Graham, of Union City, and additional uprights by Drs. David Loebbaka and Allison Nelson of Jackson; Charles and Betty Moore, of Baton Rouge, La.; Maurice and Carla Field of Martin; Betty Smith of Union City and her brother Hunter Mountjoy of Halls; Ed Williamson of Pensacola, Fla.; as well as Drs. Ernest and Elaine Harriss.
|Dr. Harriss, Department of Music interim chair, has been a key ‘player’ in this effort. Dr. Harriss had the opportunity to travel to the Steinway factory in New York to select our Steinway “Model B” grand pianos. After her trip and seeing the first shipment of pianos arrive on campus, Dr. Harriss said, “Becoming an All-Steinway School is one of the most exciting initiatives I’ve seen during my 40-year association with the university. What a difference it will make in teaching and learning! This campaign shows the value UT Martin places on the arts and affirms that student learning and achievement rank first on this campus.”
88 Keys Campaign
Upright Steinway Piano
Gifts of all levels are now being solicited and an 88 Keys Campaign has been launched to invite membership in the giving societies noted. Names can be placed on individual keys or entire pianos in memory or honor of friends or loved ones. Already gifts have been received from UT Martin professor emeritus Dr. Dwight Gatwood and his wife Dianne, Kitty Cannon of Memphis, who established the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts, as well as Ray and Wilma Smith and Dr. Lew and Mary Jo Dougherty of Camden. As co-chairs of the Campaign for Tennessee on the Martin campus, Smith and Dougherty are encouraging all alumni and friends to participate and help to end the campaign in 2011 on a “high note!”
Donors recognized during the All-Steinway Campaign kickoff in October included, top row left to right, Dr. Robert and Virginia Gibson, Newell and Bettie Graham, Dr. Elaine Harriss, Ed Williamson (donor) accompanied by his friend Ella Johnson; bottom row left to right, Drs. David Loebbaka and Allison Nelson, Charles and Bettye Moore, Hunter Mountjoy and Richard and Betty Smith and Carla Field.