The Clare S. Mackey Endowment Fund

Endowed fund strengthens vocal arts programming through the power of recruitment.

Vocal arts students take the stage for a concert in September honoring the Clare S. Mackey Endowed Fund in Voice.

The ability to recruit and retain voice talent at the MSU College of Music keeps getting stronger thanks to a generous endowment that allows students to base their decisions on the quality of a program rather than their personal finances.

Established in 2006, the Clare S. Mackey Endowed Fund in Voice awards up to $13,000 each year to support a promising student in vocal performance at MSU. The fellowship, intended primarily for graduate students, may be awarded to exceptional undergraduate students as well.

The endowed fund, faculty agree, enables MSU to compete with other top programs by providing a significant financial incentive that encourages prospective students to look deeper at the quality of the college’s vocal arts program.

“The Mackey endowment has made it possible to not only attract top-notch students, but to provide funding that is competitive with that of our peer institutions,” says Professor of Music David Rayl, director of choral programs and associate dean for graduate studies and research. 

Rayl comments that simply the presence of one additional talented student can have a major effect across the vocal arts program. Word of those successes, he says, peaks the interest of prospective students, and increases the probability that gifted young singers will come to study vocal arts and performance at MSU. 

“Nothing attracts new students more than the success of recent students in a program,” says Richard Fracker, professor of voice and chair of the vocal arts area. “As our Mackey scholars gain notoriety through competitions, apprenticeships, and professional successes, other candidates take note and ask ‘where did you learn to sing and perform like that?’”

Dr. Cecil Mackey, MSU president emeritus, and his wife Clare established the endowed fund as a way to support the vocal arts and make a difference in the lives of students. Dr. Mackey named the fund in honor of Clare—a musician, music educator, and singer. Clare studied voice through the College of Music from the time the Mackeys moved to East Lansing in the late 1970s, and received a second master’s degree in vocal performance from MSU in the late 1980s. She was a soloist at the East Lansing People’s Church for 16 years, and continues to sing with the MSU Choral Union and her church.

See Campaign in Action

Left to right: James Forger; dean of the MSU College of Music, Cecil Mackey, and Clare Mackey pose for a photo at a reception after the concert.

“It means a great deal to us personally,” says Dr. Mackey. “We enjoy knowing that we can do this in our lifetime and be able to see the students the fund benefits.”

Clare Mackey echoes the sentiment, and says it is gratifying to know the fund will live in perpetuity. 

“It’s extremely gratifying to know that some of these kids—despite being heavily recruited elsewhere—decided to come here because of what we could offer,” she says. “But the most gratifying aspect is to know that it opens doors for students who work hard and helps them achieve what they’ve been dreaming of.” 

Six students to date have been named Clare S. Mackey Scholars in Voice, with two receiving the award twice.

To learn more about establishing a named endowed scholarship, contact Director of Development Rebecca Surian at or call 517-353-9872.

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