The University of Central Arkansas received a $250,000 donation in support of the Department of Music in January 2016.
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 organization, which works to enhance the student experience in the music department.
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.
“Music is very important to my family,” Joe Whisenhunt Jr. said, representing the Whisenhunt family. He is also a member of the UCA Board of Trustees and Friends of Music. “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.”
The donation made possible the purchase of a Steinway East Indian Rosewood grand piano that resides in the President’s Home. Four 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.
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,” said President Tom Courtway. “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.”