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The Beverley Taylor Sorenson Endowed Chair for Elementary Arts Education

Utah State University honored arts advocate Beverley Taylor Sorenson for her many contributions made to arts and education in the state of Utah at an April event held in the Manon Caine Russell Kathryn Caine Wanlass Performance Hall on campus.

The event featured an arts program that included student performances, the USU Chorale and a student artwork display. Beth Foley, dean of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, and Craig Jessop, dean of the Caine College of the Arts, also took the opportunity to announce Dr. Sylvia Munsen as the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Endowed Chair for Elementary Arts Education.

Munsen's appointment shows an important collaboration between complementary programs in the two colleges and reflects Sorenson's dedication to enriching the lives of Utah children. Sorenson is a tireless champion of both the arts and education. In addition to raising eight children of her own, she has influenced the lives of thousands of Utah elementary students through her passionate commitment and generous contributions.

For many years, Sorenson has been concerned about the lack of arts education in Utah schools — particularly elementary schools. During a visit in 1995 to Lincoln Elementary in Salt Lake, a Title I school in one of the city's roughest neighborhoods, she saw the dramatic effect a high–quality arts program was having on children. This experience, coupled with concern for her grandson who was struggling in school, motivated her to dedicate time and resources to developing Art Works for Kids. She and her husband, who passed away in Jan. 2008, have always been ardent supporters of the arts and education through the Sorenson Legacy Foundation and other philanthropic efforts. In addition to serving students and schools directly, Sorenson has been a public advocate for high–quality arts education, encouraging state legislators to return art to all elementary school classrooms.

As the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Endowed Chair for Elementary Arts Education, Munsen will develop the skills of those who teach arts to elementary students, teaching university students how to incorporate music, dance, drama and visual arts into the core curriculum of English, science, math and social studies.

Research shows that high school students who take arts classes have higher verbal and math SAT scores than students who take no arts classes. High school students involved in the arts have higher graduation rates than those who do not have arts experiences. Other research findings indicate that music instruction enhances the same higher brain functions required for mathematics, chess, science and engineering.

Munsen has more than 30 years of experience in music education, formerly serving as the chair of music education at Iowa State University. There, she mentored university students of arts education and founded and conducted the Ames Children's Choirs, which developed into a widely recognized program of choral excellence for youth. Munsen has conducted more than 45 honor and festival choirs, some of which have been selected by juried CD selection to perform concerts and conduct demonstration workshops for prestigious regional, national and international conferences and festivals.

“The College of Education and Human Services at USU has achieved national recognition for its excellence in research and education, and I am excited to be a part of the outstanding work taking place in that college and in the Caine College of the Arts,” Munsen said. “Artistic experience enhances the quality of life and is central to the education of the ‘whole child.’' I am honored to support endeavors of excellence in the arts for children, who are the future leaders of our communities.”

If You've Ever Been Kissed…

The Senior Gift for 2011 is a renovation of the Block “A” area. Part of one of Utah State University's longest standing traditions, the “A” is beginning to sink to the east. The landscaping around the “A” gets muddy — especially during the winter months — and only minimal lighting is available in the area.

But the senior gift is designed to solve all of these issues. Beginning in July, the “A” will be lifted and placed on a concrete foundation laid directly underneath, pavers will then be placed around the “A” where it now sits on the northeast corner of Old Main and plans call for ground lights to be installed. Seniors were asked to donate $20.11 in honor of their graduating year, and they've responded with $5,063.21 so far. The project is scheduled to be completed in August with a ribbon–cutting during homecoming weekend. All alumni interested in donating to the project can do so by visiting www.usu.edu/giving and selecting Senior Gift 2011.