It has been a year of tremendous growth and opportunity for the Department of Music at Southern Connecticut State University. The department was just one of five in Connecticut to receive accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), it has gained a new departmental chair (associate professor Joshua Groffman took the reins this August), and is pursuing the development of a one-of-a-kind music therapy degree. And most recently, the music program has received a $250,000 gift in merit-based scholarships from the Stutzman Family Foundation.
The gift joins several other generous commitments to the program from the Stutzman Family Foundation, including music scholarships, and the Southern Applied Music Program, which provides free weekly voice or instrument lessons. Walter Stutzman, ‘09, teaches traditional and online classes as an adjunct faculty member with the Music Department and the First Year Experience (FYE) program; the foundation, established to further music education, was named in tribute to his parents, Geraldine and Jacob Stutzman.
Although access is a crucial component to the Stutzman Family Foundation’s mission, Craig Hlavac, associate dean, College of Arts & Sciences, said the department was not expecting a gift of this magnitude.
“This is a huge step in the area of scholarships,” Hlavac said. “These scholarships will be given over the next five years to music students. This is a major step in both the longevity of the agreement and in the focus.”
According to Groffman, the scholarships also give Southern a more competitive edge when attracting musical talent.
“A lot of the support from the Stutzman Family Foundation enables us to go beyond just courses and go into intensive music training,” Groffman said. “Yes, it lowers barriers to bring students to Southern, but it also raises the overall level of music making on campus. The caliber of students is already high, but there’s a problem with access even to the top-level pool of students.”
The merit-based scholarships provide music majors with up to $6,000 a year in funds and can be combined with other financial grants and awards.
“We’re bringing access to a high-quality music education to everyone at a state school,” Groffman said. “We have stellar faculty, free applied lessons, and departmental growth with new programs and an increased technological component.”
In short, the department is on an upswing, and there is no sign of slowing.
“There’s so much growth potential,” Groffman said. “Music education is continuing to evolve. There’s new kinds of teaching. Music as a field isn’t unhealthy, and there’s a lot of passion to tap into. The Stutzman Family Foundation has continued to help drive the dialogue that this is an excellent program that’s evolving and growing in exciting ways.”