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Hastings College music professor, Dr. Byron Jensen, honored by anonymous donor
Hastings College has received gifts totaling nearly $600,000 from an anonymous donor, including $500,000 to endow a Distinguished Professorship in Music in honor of Dr. Byron Jensen, professor of music and conductor/artistic director of the Hastings Symphony Orchestra.
“The donor approached the College asking for an opportunity to honor Dr. Jensen, a fact that speaks volumes about the quality of our music program and Dr. Jensen’s contributions to the campus and community,” said Dr. Phillip Dudley, college president. “Byron will be the first faculty member named to the professorship given in his honor.”
In addition to establishing the first endowed faculty position in the Department of Music, the donor provided $24,900 for string instruments and $75,000 for improvements to Perkins Library. The donor has previously supported science equipment, student-faculty research, and library holdings.
Jensen teaches courses in music history and instrumental music education, oversees the strings and percussion program, and founded and conducts the Hastings College Handbell Choir. In 2005, he was selected to participate in an advanced conducting symposium at the University of South Carolina. For the past seven years, he has served as conductor/artistic director of the 65-member Hastings Symphony Orchestra. More than 30 percent of symphony members are Hastings College students or alumni.
“Byron is a great teacher, strong musician, and excellent recruiter. Since he came to Hastings College, the number of students in string music has increased noticeably,” said Dr. Robin Koozer, professor of music, department chair, and development associate for the Hastings College Foundation. “The Music Department is deeply grateful that a donor has chosen to honor Dr. Jensen by establishing an endowed professorship, a gift that will continue to benefit the College and our students in perpetuity.”
The gift is part of a special development initiative for the Department of Music. Recent donations include new uniforms for the marching band, which has grown from 38 to 110 members in the past four years, as well as an endowed fund for piano replacement and maintenance.
The Department of Music has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music since 1948. A third of Hastings College’s 1,150 students are involved in some aspect of the music program, and 85 students are pursuing music degrees.
Hastings College, founded in 1882, is a private, four-year, liberal arts institution affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and offering 64 majors in 32 areas of study and 12 pre-professional programs. Hastings College was named 75th Best Value College in the nation and #1 in Nebraska by Forbes.com and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. It was named a 2010 “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review and rated a “Best Buy in College Education” by Barron’s. Visit www.hastings.edu for more information.
For more information, contact Dr. Phillip Dudley at (402) 461-7326 or Dr. Robin Koozer at (402) 461-7448.