Six Arkansas Tech University Department of Music alumni expressed their appreciation to one of their mentors by raising $57,000 and creating the Robert M. Bright Endowed Scholarship through the ATU Foundation.
The announcement of the new scholarship was made during a weekend of ATU music alumni events April 26-28 in Russellville.
ATU alumni Andy Anders, Herb Lunday, Dick Niven, Win Prather, Tom Reynolds and Howard Ritchie organized the fund-raising effort. They did so in honor of Bright's efforts in establishing the Arkansas Tech Brass Choir and impacting the lives of students during his time on the Tech faculty from 1963-69.
Anders, who studied under Bright and then succeeded him as the brass instructor at Arkansas Tech, served on the Tech faculty for four decades and retired as head of the ATU Department of Music. He recalled that several out-of-state trips to perform during the 1960s created the institution's regional and national reputation for musical excellence.
"That was a magic time, because that was the time when Arkansas Tech established itself musically," said Anders. "It took the vision of some unique individuals, and for us those four were Gene Witherspoon, Loren Bartlett, Robert Bright and Jim Jones, who replaced Bartlett. Those four people affected us personally. They got us to believe in ourselves. What they really instilled in us was a lifelong mantra to be the very best we can be in all things. They were tremendous role models as teachers, scholars, performers and people."
In all, Bright has taught for more than 60 years. Now 84, he continues to teach music lessons and was in attendance for the announcement of the scholarship in his honor.
His son, Dr. Jeff Bright, is in his first year as the head of the ATU Department of Music.
The Robert M. Bright Endowed Scholarship will be available to ATU brass players in the band program. Applicants must be freshmen or upperclassmen, enrolled full-time, majoring in music education, have a minimum grade point average of 2.75 and provide two letters of recommendation, including one from their current band director.
David Hall, a trumpet player from Cabot, has been selected as the initial recipient of the scholarship.
Visit www.atu.edu/music to learn more about the ATU Department of Music.