Elmhurst University alumna donates $500,000 for jazz series
Elmhurst University has received a $500,000 gift to establish an international visiting artists series for the school's jazz studies program.
The gift commitment comes from Maureen Lamberty Heakin, a 1972 Elmhurst University alumna and longtime donor to the institution.
The Maureen Lamberty Heakin International Artists Series for Jazz Studies is expected to bring world-renowned artists to perform on campus and to stay for extended periods to teach or collaborate with faculty and students.
Heakin's gift is meant to build upon the work of Grammy Award-winner Doug Beach, the former director of Elmhurst University's jazz band and jazz studies program. Beach retired in May after 43 years at Elmhurst University.
"(Doug) brought real-world experience to his lesson plans by creating opportunities for the students to interact with well-known professional artists, many of whom are his close friends as well as musical colleagues," Heakin said in a statement.
For more than two decades, Heakin and her husband, John, have been fans of Beach and Elmhurst's annual June Jazz concert, which has also been called "Summer Extravaganza."
"We were wowed by the talent and professionalism of the students," she said.
In a statement, Beach said Heakin's gift will be "a tremendous asset to our department for the long term, and one that's going to have an impact on many, many students."
During his Elmhurst University career, Beach garnered some of the institution's highest teaching honors.
Heakin, who graduated from Elmhurst with a degree in psychology, is retired after a successful career in marketing research, primarily at Swift & Co. and ConAgra Foods.
"Maureen's gift is the perfect way to carry forward Doug's extraordinary legacy as a teacher, mentor, leader and musician," Elmhurst University President Troy D. VanAken said in a statement. "We greatly appreciate her generosity."