Leaders of the West Virginia University Marching Band will have a new and improved perch to observe practices when the ???Pride of West Virginia??? convenes in August to begin the 2010 season.
A $50,000 gift from alumni Dan and Betsy Brown, along with support from the Dean???s Office at the College of Creative Arts, helped fund a new 32-foot rehearsal tower at the band???s practice field next to the WVU Coliseum. Built by Educational Steel Products of Noblesville, Ind., the tower is complete with two viewing balconies and OSHA-approved stairs and railings.
???The old tower, which we affectionately called ???the crow???s nest,??? only had an 18-foot viewing level,??? said Jay Drury, Marching Band director. ???It was quite difficult to get a good view of the back sideline and the outer sections of the field, and it would occasionally sway in the wind or when people would climb up its old ladder.???
The new tower will not only now provide a safe and sturdy viewing platform, but will also allow an improved view of the field and the band during rehearsals. The secondary viewing balcony also will allow additional access for other members of the staff to have a better vantage point, which will improve efficiency during rehearsals, Drury noted.
WVU Facilities Management oversaw the demolition of the old tower and the construction of the new concrete pad and new retaining wall needed to support the new structure.
Educational Steel Products, formerly known as Band Towers Unlimited, has designed and built high-quality structures for many top high school and university bands across the country, including Ohio State, Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Mississippi State.
A new and improved sound system and potentially some additional lighting fixtures are the final pieces of the band tower upgrade, which will be completed this summer and should be ready for band camp in August.
???Dan and Betsy Brown are wonderful friends and patrons of the College of Creative Arts and West Virginia University,??? said Dean Bernie Schultz. ???Their generous support has enhanced the education of our students in many ways, and now they have contributed to making ???The Pride??? an even better marching band???and that is saying a lot!???
Dan and Betsy Brown both graduated from WVU in 1959???Dan with a bachelor???s degree from the College of Business & Economics and Betsy with a bachelor???s degree from the Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry & Consumer Sciences. Mr. Brown is retired from the Capital Group Companies, Inc., in Los Angeles. Mrs. Brown is a member of the WVU College of Creative Arts Visiting Committee.
The Browns are charter members of the Woodburn Circle Society with their contributions supporting a wide variety of programs at WVU. Following the establishment of Brown Family Faculty Development Funds in both in the College of Business & Economics and in the Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry & Consumer Sciences, the Browns have branched out to become philanthropists of a truly institutional scope. In 2002, they established the Dan and Betsy Brown Lecture Series with the intention of attracting to campus distinguished individuals from a broad spectrum of disciplines. In the same year, they provided funding for the renovation of the Dan and Betsy Brown Guest Suite at Blaney House.
In subsequent years, the Browns gave much-needed support to WVU athletics for facilities improvement projects, including the Dick Dlesk Soccer Complex and the Athletic Learning Center. More recently, they have added WVU Career Services and Student Affairs to the long list of programs touched by their generosity, with gifts funding the placement of Career Services kiosks throughout campus and the construction of facilities for Adventure West Virginia, a unique outdoor orientation program for first-year students.
The College of Creative Arts and the WVU Alumni Association have also benefited from the Browns??? wide-ranging philanthropic vision. In 2009, the College of Creative Arts dedicated its newly renovated Betsy and Dan Brown Photography Laboratory and Betsy and Dan Brown CAD (Computer-Assisted Design) Laboratory at the Creative Arts Center. A generous gift from the Browns provided these state-of-the-art facilities for students studying art and theatre design.
The Browns??? most recent gift was made through the WVU Foundation, a private non-profit corporation that generates and provides support for West Virginia University. They have resided in Hilton Head Island, S.C. since Mr. Brown???s retirement in 1996.
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