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UMass Lowell Receives $500,000 for New Arts Professorship


Richard and Nancy Donahue’s Gift Goes to Art, Music, Theater Education

LOWELL, Mass. ߝ Arts patrons Richard and Nancy Donahue are creating a $500,000 endowed professorship at the University of Massachusetts Lowell that will focus on arts education.

The professorship, funded by a gift from the Richard K. and Nancy L. Donahue Charitable Foundation of Lowell, will support education at UMass Lowell in music, art and theater. The announcement was made Wednesday at “Sounds of Spring,” the second annual benefit concert for music scholarships.

“Through the Nancy Donahue Endowed Professorship in the Arts, we will strengthen the music, art and theater programs at UMass Lowell and nurture the artistic passion and talent in students who can take advantage of Lowell’s vast artistic resources,” Chancellor Marty Meehan said.

The name Donahue is synonymous with the arts and philanthropy. Nancy Donahue is a director of the Whistler House Museum of Art, a trustee of the Ayer Home and a director of the New England Quilt Museum. Richard Donahue has practiced law since 1951 at the firm founded by his father. In 1979, the Donahues formed Merrimack Valley Repertory Theatre on the campus of what was then the University of Lowell. The university has been a favorite cause of the couple, who have been recognized in a number of ways, including with Richard K. Donahue Hall on UMass Lowell’s East Campus. Nancy Donahue previously served as the director of the University of Lowell Foundation. Both are strong supporters of the Mary Jo Leahey Symphonic Band Camp, the UMass Lowell String Project and the Discovery Series at the Center for the Arts.

“We make this commitment to UMass Lowell to further its excellence in education in the humanities and to enhance its strong bond with the vibrant arts community here in Lowell,” Nancy Donahue said.

The Department of Music at UMass Lowell is synonymous with quality and innovation. Through unique programs like Sound Recording Technology and Music Business, as well as the nation’s first degree-granting program in Music Education, the department is leading the way in providing superior training to graduates who enter the field as teachers, technicians and visionaries.

Music Prof. Kay George Roberts is the first recipient of the Nancy Donahue Endowed Professorship in the Arts. A faculty member at the university since 1978, Roberts is the founder of the UMass Lowell String Project, which makes classical music accessible to local public schools students, music director of the New England Orchestra and principal conductor for Opera North Inc., in Philadelphia. She has served as guest conductor of major orchestras across the United States and Europe.

“We are pleased that Kay George Roberts will be the first Donahue professor.  Her passion for teaching, the City of Lowell and her music is well known and much appreciated," Nancy Donahue said.  “We look forward to helping other artists in the years ahead through this endowed professorship.”

Roberts, an accomplished violinist, studied at Tanglewood with conductors Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa and Gustav Meier, and is the first woman to earn the doctor of musical arts degree in orchestral conducting at Yale University. She is the recipient of many honors, including for community service from the U.S. House of Representatives and the 2007 University of Massachusetts President’s Public Service Award.

“I am very honored to be the first recipient of the Nancy Donahue Professorship of the Arts.To make a difference in the lives of others and to bring music to the Lowell community has been a wonderful experience for me,” Roberts said.

UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 12,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education.

 For more information, contact or 978-934-3224