September 24, 2018
Largest Gift in West Chester University’s History Endows The Wells School of Music
School of Music to be Named for WCU Brothers this Thursday, September 27
A transformational $3 million gift from Dr. James R. Wells ’54 and Mr. Richard G. Wells ’58, brothers who are West Chester University alumni, will benefit the students and faculty of West Chester University’s School of Music in perpetuity through an endowment established to fund scholarships, graduate assistantship programs, travel for music ensembles, state-of-the-art marching band equipment, and music education programming. The gift is the largest cash gift received in the history of West Chester University.
The formal announcement of the Wells School of Music will be made on Thursday, September 27, 2018 during a performance of the Wind Ensemble & Wind Symphony at 8:15 p.m. in the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, 700 South High Street in West Chester. The Wells family will be in attendance. The concert is open to the public free of charge as a tribute to the Wells brothers who, in 1982, established Festivals of Music, a school band clinic/conference, as well as World Travel, Inc. in 1983 to facilitate travel to these national and international festivals.
The brothers and their wives, Joanne M. (Noble) Wells ‘55 and Elizabeth J. (Noble) Wells ’60, longtime educators who also happen to be sisters and West Chester University alumnae, are deeply committed to providing innovative pathways to support performance opportunities for school music programs and the many students who benefit from the professional and personal enrichment that music brings to their lives.
“Foremost humanitarians have emphasized the importance of music to human culture,” said James. “To promote music and music education, West Chester University School of Music must continue to attract the most talented candidates, offer much-needed scholarships, and secure national recognition as a preeminent music education school. It is our intent to foster these ideals, and strengthen the School as a fertile training ground for the persevering musicians of today and tomorrow.”
James’ dedication to the School is in concert with Richard’s philosophy on life. “Human engineering is creating minds through education to develop and understand the values of life, and to have a lifestyle filled with family, friends, happiness, and, of course, music,” Richard shared.
In many respects, WCU’s Golden Rams Marching Band is just one in a long line of musical legacies left at WCU by the talented brothers. The band has been featured during Philadelphia Phillies World Series appearances, New York’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Golden Rams Marching Band is proud to perform regularly at Bands of America Regional and National Events. As a competitive force, the Golden Rams have performed in exhibition at the 2013 Atlanta Regional, the 2012 Pittsburgh Regional, and the 2009 Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“We are overwhelmed with the generosity of this gift,” said Christopher Fiorentino, president, West Chester University. “James and Richard are both pioneers in the field of music, and we are quite fortunate to have them as alumni, as well as role models to all of our students. Their willingness to make a significant difference in students’ lives is testament to their character, generosity, and ability to inspire an entire generation of future musicians.”
About James and Richard Wells
Dr. James R. Wells ’54 majored in music education as an undergraduate at West Chester University. He returned to WCU becoming a full professor, directing the marching band, and teaching in music education and music history departments. He created the Marching Band and Band Front Conference in 1970. In addition, he and his brother, Richard, started Festivals of Music, a school band clinic/conference in 1982. In 1983, the two started World Travel Inc. to facilitate travel to their National/International Music Festivals. World Travel Inc. evolved into specializing in corporate travel and is the 4th largest independent travel company in the U.S. Dr. Wells is married to Joanne M. (Noble) Wells ’55, who received a Bachelor of Science in Music at West Chester State College, and is a former music teacher and organist who continues to share her musical forte as church organist.
Mr. Richard G. Wells ’58 majored in music education as an undergraduate at West Chester University. He taught for 29 years at Kutztown University as an associate professor in the Department of Music and as director of bands. In 1971, he created the Jazz program, as an accredited course at Kutztown University. Mr. Wells completed successful tenures at Kutztown Area and Owen J. Roberts School Systems. He partnered with his brother in the Festivals of Music and World Travel, Inc. enterprises. Mr. Wells is married to Elizabeth J. (Noble) Wells ’60, who graduated from West Chester State College in 1960 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. She received her Master of Education degree in 1968, and, after 40 years, retired from teaching in 2000.
About West Chester University’s Wells School of Music
West Chester University’s Wells School of Music offers students an outstanding opportunity in concentrated performance and musicianship through its educational centerpiece — the Applied Music Department. The School’s superior performance and practice venues include 22 new Steinways, Skinner organ, tech lab, Roland piano lab, and more. Students study with renowned faculty who have dual careers as dedicated educators and professional musicians. Faculty provide private lessons for all music students and are the directors for numerous student ensembles. The School supports a wide variety of performance degrees, including a Bachelor of Music in Performance, as well as a Master of Music in Performance. Graduates pursue successful careers at major institutions and teach music education at home and abroad. .