Ratcliffe Foundation Supports Bluefield College Instrumental Music Program
Last spring, Bluefield College unveiled a new instrumental music program for students, and on Monday, July 27, the Ratcliffe Foundation of Tazewell, Virginia, expressed support for the program with a $25,000 grant.
July 27, 2009
In front of faculty, staff, and members of the media during a ceremony on campus, the Ratcliffe Foundation's Scott Cole presented a $25,000 check to Bluefield College president Dr. David Olive, instrumental music head Dr. Andrew Necessary, and vice president for advancement Ruth Blankenship.
"We are so grateful for the Ratcliffe Foundation and its support of our vision to create collegiate instrumental opportunities that currently do not exist for students in southwest Virginia," said Blankenship. "This is a historic gift to our college, to this new program, and more importantly to the community of Tazewell County."
The college launched its instrumental music program this past fall after its Board of Trustees approved the curriculum in the spring of 2008. Designed to give students an opportunity to study and/or participate in instrumental music at the collegiate level, the new program, according to organizers, addresses a significant area need.
"We currently have a documented shortage of qualified band directors and instrumental instructors," said Dr. Necessary. "Each year, thousands of young men and women participate in marching band and ensembles in public schools, but unfortunately these talented individuals are unable to pursue collegiate experiences and explore career opportunities in this field. That's why Bluefield College identified this as a priority program to implement."
In just its first year of existence, the instrumental music program developed a jazz band and a concert ensemble for students. The college also added an instrumental music education component to the curriculum for students interested in becoming a teacher of the discipline. And, according to Dr. Necessary, the $25,000 grant from the Ratcliffe Foundation will help grow the program even more.
"With this money, we will be able to purchase necessary equipment and instruments," said Dr. Necessary. "These are not only necessary for instructional purposes, but also serve as recruitment tools. In many cases for programs like ours, it is not the bells and whistles of technology or luxuries of residence halls, but the instrumental equipment and quality that draw students and drive enrollment decisions."
In addition to purchasing equipment and instruments, the Ratcliffe grant will enable the college to create a strategic recruitment plan for prospective music students and develop additional instrumental ensembles, including a symphony orchestra, pep band, and wind ensemble.
Long-term, Dr. Necessary added, the college hopes to secure sufficient resources to establish an enrollment of 100 music majors, an instrumental equipment and operational fund, a collegiate marching band, a community orchestra, and a state-of-the-art performing arts facility for educational and performance purposes.
"The long-term viability of our program will depend on the procurement of necessary funds that will allow for scholarships, equipment purchases, and facility construction," said Dr. Necessary. "The construction and occupancy of a performing arts facility in the next three years is critical."
The creation of new academic programs, like the instrumental music program, and the development of additional facilities, like a performing arts center, are all part of the school's new Strategic Plan, according to Blankenship. Investments, like that from the Ratcliffe Foundation, she added, are what will help the school fulfill this vision.
"Our new instrumental music program is just one more example of how Bluefield College is seeking to create opportunities to prepare innovative learners and transformational leaders to impact the world," said Blankenship. "Not only will this program allow students to continue to explore and expand their love of music and performance, but also enable them for the first time in our region to seek a degree, along with career and professional opportunities in instrumental music."