Fulbright College Receives Gift of Steinway Piano

Graham Stewart, executive director of the Arkansas Alumni Association, proudly accepts this gift with members of the association staff.
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Graham Stewart, executive director of the Arkansas Alumni Association, proudly accepts this gift with members of the association staff.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – When Boyce Billingsley downsized from her Bella Vista home to her newly built home in Bentonville, she simply could not take everything with her. Her 17-year-old Steinway piano needed a new owner, and she remembered the University of Arkansas and its All-Steinway School initiative.

The piano, a Model M, has found its new home in Sturgis Hall at the Janelle Y. Hembree Alumni House on Razorback Road.

“After wondering for some time who I could give it to, I remembered the university,” said Billingsley. “I asked Chancellor Gearhart if there was any interest in getting this piano, and he said he would be delighted to have it,” said Billingsley. “I’m pleased they have chosen the alumni house for its location.”

In 2010, the university made a commitment to become an All-Steinway School, providing students and faculty with the highest quality pianos for instruction and performance. As one of 145 schools in the world to attain this honor, the university has set out to acquire all Steinway brand pianos, which are the preferred instruments of more than 99 percent of the concert artists worldwide. Within the halls of the Billingsley Music Building, University of Arkansas faculty teach more than 315 music majors and minors in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, all of whom must have proficiencies in piano and be supported by trained piano accompanists. Providing students and faculty members with exceptional equipment allows for the best instruction possible.

“We greatly appreciate Mrs. Billingsley’s support of the All-Steinway initiative through this unique, beautiful and high quality instrument,” said Robin Roberts, dean of Fulbright College. “The piano will be used and enjoyed by the campus community, and it also serves as an aesthetic enhancement to one of the front doors of our university. Gifts from the Billingsleys have done so much for our students and faculty over the years, and we are pleased to now have a symbol that embodies their generosity and impact on our campus.”

The Billingsleys have funded several endowed chairs and scholarships across campus as well as supported the libraries and Razorback athletics. George Billingsley was chairman and chief executive officer of Pacific Resources Export Limited and president of International Tours of Northwest Arkansas. A 1957 University of Arkansas graduate with a degree in history, he passed away in 2002. Boyce Billingsley is a 1955 graduate in finance and banking. Both were charter members of the Chancellor’s Society, contributed to the restoration of Old Main and have actively supported the Arkansas Alumni Association and intercollegiate athletics.

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