PORTLAND, Maine — The University of Southern Maine announced Friday its school of music has received a $1 million bequest from the estate of Anne Randolph Henry.
Henry — who returned to college later in life after her first husband died, and graduated from what was then known as University of Maine at Portland in 1971 — died in 2011 at age 91 in Falmouth.
“She loved music — it was part of her life,” said Anne Stanley, one of Henry’s six children, in a statement released by the university Friday. “[The gift] shows what kind of person she was. Education was important to her. At that time, it was groundbreaking for someone in her 50s to return to college. She enjoyed it.”
Henry served on the advisory board for the USM School of Music, the only music school at a public university in New England, and helped establish the Piper Shores Retirement Community in Scarborough.
According to the terms from the family trust established to manage the bequest, 60 percent of the annual interest revenue generated from the endowed $1 million gift will be put toward music scholarships, and the remaining amount will support music programming.
The announcement of the bequest comes on the heels of bad financial news for the university. Earlier in the week, USM officials confirmed plans to lay off at least seven full-time faculty members as part of a plan to identify $5 million in budget cuts for fiscal year 2014. School leaders blamed regular state budget cuts to higher education and frozen tuition rates for contributing to their dire financial straits in the coming year.
“This bequest comes at a critically important time in the 50-plus year history of the school,” said School of Music Director and Associate Professor Scott Harris in a statement. “It sends a message that this school matters in terms of educating first-class music performers and educators, and it makes a statement in terms of the school’s contributions to the region’s vibrant arts community.”
According to the university announcement Friday, approximately 200 undergraduate students study at the School of Music, with majors in performance, music education, jazz studies and piano pedagogy. Additionally, the school puts on more than 100 concerts and events each academic year at a range of venues across southern Maine.
“It’s a visionary gift,” said USM President Theo Kalikow in a Friday statement. “It allows us, year after year in perpetuity, to offer scholarships and to enhance the school’s programming.”