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SDSU musical theater program receives $2.4 million gift

San Diego State University received a $2.4 million gift from professors emeriti Carey Wall and Terry O’Donnell for the musical theater program.

The gift will endow a faculty position in the program and the funding ensures SDSU musical theater students will continue to have opportunities to learn from top faculty members.

“This support for musical theater will impact thousands of students, faculty, alumni and emeriti. I am thrilled to be moving a critical program forward,” said SDSU President Elliot Hirshman.

SDSU prepares emerging artists for careers as performers, directors, music directors, choreographers and educators in the field of musical theater. Students and graduates of the master of fine arts musical theater program have performed on and off Broadway, in regional theaters, in national and international tours, and on local stages.

Wall is a professor emerita from the College of Arts & Letters. She was a professor of English, specializing in American literature, for 37 years, and served as the department chair for a dozen years. She is a founding member of SDSU Phi Beta Kappa Chapter, and since 2002 has been the chapter’s corresponding secretary. She has supported the musical theater program for the last 10 years through scholarships and support of the archive.

“My gift will help to train the next generation of musical theater educators for universities across the country. I hope others will contribute to the M.F.A. in musical theater program so the archive can be expanded and the graduate students can have access to an additional layer of specialized instructors,” Wall said.

O’Donnell retired in 2008 after 35 years as a professor in both theater and music. He is a founding member of the musical theater M.F.A. program, and taught in the program since its inception in 1982. O’Donnell is well-known across campus as the carillonneur of the 204-bell University Carillon.

“Our unique M.F.A. musical theater curriculum is designed to balance both performance skills and scholarship. It is compelling to see what this program does to develop young artists,” O’Donnell said.

This latest gift brings support of The Campaign for SDSU to $345 million to date. SDSU embarked on its $500 million fundraising campaign in July 2007 with the goal of supporting its students, faculty and programs and propelling the university into the ranks of the top public research universities in the United States.

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