A gift to honor a teacher, friend and mentor
Buckley inspired to support Billman Music Pavilion.
Rhonda Buckley knows that the College of Music has been educating decades of successful music educators and performers in what is now an outdated facility. So when asked if she would make a gift commitment in support of the Billman Music Pavilion, there was no hesitation.
“I will be so proud to have my name on the donor wall in the Billman Music Pavilion lobby,” Rhonda said. “It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that I am helping to support a new tomorrow for College of Music students and faculty.”
Her connection to the College of Music is strong. As a student, Rhonda (’84, ’86, Music) was in the Spartan Marching Band, and as a first generation college student she was grateful for the scholarship support she received as an undergraduate saxophone performance major. In addition, she served as the College of Music associate dean for outreach and engagement for eight years.
“Jim nurtured in me a love of the saxophone and of arts administration. Now, my life is filled with both and I’m eternally grateful,” Rhonda added.
Rhonda is currently serving as Head of Campuses and Interim Head of Music Education at the Levine School, a community music school that provides sequential music instruction at five campuses in Northwest and Southeast Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.
“When I walked through the doors of the Music Building as an entering freshman, and member of the Spartan Marching Band, I felt like I had an instant family,” Rhonda shared. “In fact, that first day, I met Lisa (Merz) Toenniges who was in my SMB alto sax squad, became my ear-training partner and saxophone quartet member, and is still a dear friend today.”
So what triggered Rhonda to make this gift now? A chance to honor her teacher, friend and mentor, Jim Forger, dean of the College of Music.
Jim Forger was my saxophone professor from 1980-1986,” explained Rhonda. “I also had the opportunity to work on his leadership team in the College of Music from 2007 to 2014. In the span of 34 years, Jim’s commitment to the College has never wavered. He remains steadfast in his desire to elevate music, musicians and music education to the highest standards. It’s a privilege to share in his vision with my gift, made in his honor, in support of the Billman Music Pavilion.”
Construction for the 37,000 square foot Billman Music Pavilion began in late June 2018, with the official Groundbreaking event scheduled for Friday, October 19. The private fundraising goal for this new space, and an additional 8,500 square feet of renovated space, is $17.5 million. After 18 months of fundraising, generous MSU alumni, friends, parents, faculty and staff have contributed more than $16.3M to this student-focused bricks and mortar campaign – nearly 94% of goal.
“I encourage my fellow Music alumni to join me in this effort,” Rhonda said. “Our faculty need a teaching environment that enables them to do their best work. Their ‘laboratory’ needs to be outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment and acoustical design. Please consider what you can do to support the Billman Music Pavilion!”
Contact Senior Director of Development Rebecca Surian at firstname.lastname@example.org or (517) 353-9872 for information on how to make a gift for the Music Pavilion and to learn more about how to add your name to the Music Pavilion Donor Wall.