UCA receives $250,000 gift in support of the arts

The University of Central Arkansas received a $250,000 gift that moves the university closer to becoming an All-Steinway campus.

Joe Whisenhunt Sr., Joe Whisenhunt Jr., Kari Whisenhunt and the entire Whisenhunt family dedicated the gift in memory of Margaret Whisenhunt, who helped establish the Friends of Music, an organization that works to enhance the student experience in the Department of Music.

The donation allowed the upgrade and equipment purchase for a practice room suite made up of five practice spaces that will bear Margaret Whisenhunt’s name.

“I’m trying to improve the student experience on campus. I’m invested in the fine arts. I’m invested in the theatre program, the [Arkansas] Shakespeare Theatre and the music program,” Joe Whisenhunt Jr. said, representing the Whisenhunt family. He is also a member of the Friends of Music and the UCA Board of Trustees.

UCA Dept of Music instrumentsFour of the small rooms have been equipped with K52s, the finest Steinway upright pianos that are made. The fifth room is larger and holds a refurbished Steinway Model M, which is a medium grand piano. All of these spaces were also equipped with bookshelves, updated locks and security cameras.

In addition, the donation made it possible to purchase the East Indian Rosewood grand piano that will reside in the President’s House.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson expressed his gratitude in a letter to Whisenhunt, “With the first phase of the Steinway Project allowing students to have new practice pianos in a new suite of rooms, Friends of Music is showing its support to heart and soul of UCA—the students! On behalf of the State of Arkansas, thank you for your continued support and service to UCA, to your community and to your fellow citizens.”

The donated funds also allowed the purchase of a soprano saxophone, a suspended cymbal, brass mutes and two horns. The department was also able to refurbish a cello and provide Apple TV access for two classrooms.

“For many years, Joe Whisenhunt and his family have been involved with, and very supportive of, the arts not only at UCA, but in Conway. We appreciate their commitment to UCA, and their desire to make the UCA Music Department the very best. These funds will ensure that our excellent music faculty, who teach some extraordinary UCA students, have the finest pianos available. And with his dedication moving ahead, the UCA Friends of Music will make sure our music program continues to thrive and be very successful,” said UCA President Tom Courtway. “On behalf of the entire university, we express our thanks and appreciation to Joe and his family for their generous gift. It is transformative for our music program.”

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