Conservatory Celebrates 27 New Scholarships

Charles Bruffy congratulates a 2019 graduate

Volunteer-led 20/20 campaign exceeds goals

The UMKC Conservatory is celebrating the creation of 27 new endowed scholarships. Thanks to a volunteer committee which triumphed during challenging times, students who may not have been able to join the ranks of Conservatory students and alumni will now have their chance.

The Friends of the Conservatory initiated the concept of the 20 / 20 campaign in July of 2018. Their plan – to create 20 new endowed scholarships, each of which required a commitment of $25,000 or more, by the end of 2020 — was ambitious. Long-time supporter Don Dagenais agreed to be the committee’s chair.

“I agreed to chair the campaign because I believe in what the Conservatory is doing and how critical scholarships are. I volunteered out of love for the organization and what it does for the future of music.”

From the beginning, Dagenais thought creating 20 new scholarships in 18 months was reasonable.

“I thought we might actually do better. Once we met and put together a plan that allowed groups of people to contribute to a scholarship, I was very optimistic.”

Marylou Turner and Michael Henry

Michael Henry, a longtime Conservatory supporter and Friends of the Conservatory board member, was one of the first volunteers to recruit friends and colleagues to create a scholarship in choral conducting in honor of Kansas City-based Grammy award winner Charles Bruffy, MM’88, artistic director of the Kansas City Chorale and chorus director of the Kansas City Symphony.

“We wanted the campaign to support new students, but also to tell a story of alumni,” Henry says. “I’m uncomfortable asking friends for money, but for this – because we support the arts and because the campaign focused on stories of people – it was personal. It was a gift of joy.”

Henry and long-time Conservatory supporter and volunteer, Marylou Turner, who were the 2018 Crescendo co-chairs, announced the scholarship at the 2018 patrons’ party for the event.

“I’ll never forget it,” Bruffy says. “I was overwhelmed – stunned, grateful and shocked – by the generosity of my friends. But more importantly, I understand the importance of scholarships. Everyone deserves the opportunity to realize their personal worth and aptitude. In our world, scholarships make that happen.”

Even with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 20 / 20 campaign committee, in conjunction with the Friends of the Conservatory, Jazz Friends and the Women’s Committee for the Conservatory surpassed its goal. The Committee’s efforts resulted in individual, group, honorary, memorial and estate gifts that established 27 new scholarships. These gifts, totaling more than $1.1 million, support students in music performance, music therapy, music education, jazz, theatre and dance.

“I hoped we’d be successful,” Dagenais says. “I thought we’d exceed the goal, but to exceed by as much as we did was significant and we extend our thanks to the donors, the committee and the staff.”