KU School of Music to honor faculty, alumni with hall of achievement and dedication ceremony

Please join us on Friday, September 30, at 5:00 p.m. as we launch the new Nicholas Gerren Hall of Achievement with a dedication ceremony at Murphy Hall.

The University of Kansas School of Music acknowledges its history of participation in the systemic exclusion and marginalization of under-represented communities of people in our society. The Nicholas L. Gerren, Sr. Hall of Achievement is one attempt to begin redressing these offenses. The purpose of this hall is to honor the life and career of alumni, faculty, and staff from the KU School of Music who, despite exclusion and marginalization, made a positive impact in the field of music.

Nicholas Gerren persevered during a time when, for many people around him, the color of his skin suggested that he should be marginalized and excluded from reaping the benefits of this country’s cultural and educational institutions. This hall is to show respect for the lives and careers of people of color, such as Nicholas Gerren, who succeeded despite the barriers of Institutional Racism.

Members of Gerren’s family will be in attendance for this special event, where we will also be inducting two additional members into the Hall of Achievement, Etta Moten Barnett and William P. Foster. The recognition wall will be unveiled at the south wing of Murphy Hall outside the music and dance library.

To learn more about the inductees, please see below.

For more information, please contact the KU School of Music at 785-864-3436 or visit www.music.ku.edu.

A person playing a violin

Description automatically generatedAbout Nicholas Gerren:

Nicholas L. Gerren (1912-2002), born in Kansas City, Kansas, earned four degrees from KU: BM in Violin (1935), BME (1947), MME (1948), PhD (1953). He studied violin and conducting on a scholarship at the Moscow Conservatory (1935-37). Gerren taught and directed orchestras and choirs at several colleges and universities for forty years, finally at Central State University (Wilberforce, Ohio), where he served as Dean of the School of Music and Art. He received both the Fred Ellsworth Medallion for Service (1975) and Distinguished Service Citation (1984) from KU and was a US State Department arts representative to the Soviet Union.

About Etta Moten Barnett:

Etta Moten Barnett (1901-2004), born in Weimar, Texas, earned a BA in voice and drama (1931) from KU. She joined the Eva Jessye Choir in New York and appeared in several Broadway productions, including in her signature role as Bess in a famous revival of Porgy and Bess (1942-44), with which she also toured. Her Hollywood career included solos in Gold Diggers of 1933 and Flying Down to Rio (1933). Moten’s performing career ended in 1952. Later she hosted I Remember When on radio in Chicago, was a civic leader, and served as an American cultural representative to African nations.

A person wearing a uniform

Description automatically generated with low confidenceAbout William P. Foster:

William P. Foster (1919-2010) grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, where he studied clarinet. He earned a BME (1941) from KU, MA (1950) from Wayne State University, and EdD (1955) from Columbia University. After two years of high school instruction, he moved into college level teaching, finally leading the Florida A&M University “Marching 100” from 1946 to 1998, making it a premier, influential ensemble known for its high-stepping showmanship, dancing, rapid tempos, and international appearances. Foster became president of the American Bandmasters Association, a member of the National Council on the Arts, and was inducted into numerous halls of fame.