|Martha and Ralph Williams by the piano at home|
|Dad at his alma mater, U of M-Twin Cities, in 1946. War is done!|
|Mom in her well-known "gait" across campus, on behalf of campus P.O.|
Gifts of material things are no longer important to us. Our dining room table is adorned with two little Christmas-themed figurines that cost me a dollar at the recent Senior Bazaar. The figurines promote an atmosphere that is fully satisfying to us both. A few years ago we began attending the Christmas Eve service at our church, something we should have done all along. Church is in lieu of the many traditional things we once did for Christmas: the tree, the gifts etc. Our family does not need more "stuff."
As far as giving is concerned, we accomplished this most thoroughly with our financial gift to UMM music. We have actually improved on that gift since I first announced this on my blogs. It started out as a "quasi-endowed fund." I never really felt comfortable with the word "quasi." I was made aware of the perpetually endowed fund option. This would require more money of course. But we went ahead and did it.
So our fund will now be endowed in perpetuity, lasting until our sun turns into a red giant. By then maybe we'll be ready to have UMM transferred to a planet in another galaxy. The perpetual option seemed necessary to me. My father graduated from the U of M-Twin Cities. He taught for a long time at the U's St. Paul School of Agriculture in St. Paul. I was in my preschool years when Dad taught in St. Paul. I have warm memories from that phase in my life.
Then we came to Morris and UMM. I remember vividly UMM's "circle drive" in our first days here. Music concerts were at Edson Auditorium. They seemed to be well-received there. My father's biggest claim to fame turned out to be his men's chorus. He had creds in all areas of music. He led a jazz type of dance band when in college: "The Campus Nighthawks." He arrived at the name when purchasing some music stands that already had the "CN" initials. How about that? Jazz and big band music was pretty male-dominated then, but they had a female singer.
My father directed the original UMM orchestra which put out a vinyl record. As the only music faculty member in year one, he of course did everything, so he directed the band.
Our gift to UMM specifies choir as a priority - Dad was a prolific choral composer. He ended up in a long and well-enjoyed retirement, while Mom ended up working at UMM further. My mom was a bookstore employee for a time and then became supervisor of the campus post office. She was known for having wonderful rapport with the student workers there. She got the Martelle Award one year. I was poised on the grass with my camera for that (at graduation).
We are delighted to make our perpetually endowed gift to UMM, which means we're up to $25,000. My dad would say: "You can't take it with you."
I'm really not sure what kind of future UMM has. Music is a nice little refuge in academia because it is non-political. We hear a lot about political strife at UMM, the righties vs. the lefties, gay vs. homophobes, atheists vs. Bible thumpers etc. I have written in the past that the institution should work to tamp down all the political venting. I have suggested "that's not what the students are here for." Maybe it just can't be avoided.
Can UMM continue to thrive as it puts liberal arts on the traditional pedestal? We hear about colleges across the USA having to trim their liberal arts priority.
Maybe UMM can overcome through sheer superior reputation of its offerings. We want to root for this if practical. But let's keep in mind that our revered local campus has gone in and out of phases before. It was once an ag school. It's hard to predict the future with certainty.
But we hope for leadership that is infused with wisdom. Close your eyes and hear the old "UMM Hymn" in your heads.
Addendum: Mom and I attended the 4 p.m. concert Friday at the recital hall. It was a wonderful concert but it did not go well for us. Mom is not always sharp mentally and she began talking at too great a volume as the concert ended. I was not expecting this. We will not be able to attend any more, and I'm sad about that. I'm glad she got to shake Simon's hand through the course of the evening. The concert was a terrific blending of media promoting the best type of Christmas air. I especially liked the locally produced video.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org