A $2 million donation to the Liberty University School of Music has opened the door for incoming freshmen who might otherwise not have enrolled, and benefited rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have demonstrated their gifts in worship and the performing arts.
Harold and Patricia Mathena, members of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Okla., made the generous donation for the scholarships last fall. The couple presented the first 11 scholarships to students during a special Convocation for the School of Music on April 23 in Thomas Road Baptist Church’s Bruner Hall.
“We had very little scholarship money for the music program before this,” said Dr. Vernon Whaley, dean of the School of Music. “This donation has allowed us to establish an entire scholarship program with 14 different kinds of scholarships. It is a tremendous blessing.”
Harold Mathena attended the very first Super Conference hosted by Liberty in the late 1970s.
“Harold Mathena is a longtime Southern Baptist pastor who followed the ministry of (Liberty founder) Dr. Jerry Falwell,” Whaley said.
The Mathenas’ son, Dr. Gary Mathena, then minister of music at First Baptist Church in Roanoke, also attended the Convocation. He first met Whaley in the mid-1980s when he was the minister of music for First Southern Baptist Church in Del City, Okla., and Whaley was working on his Ph.D. at Oklahoma University.
“Over time, I’ve talked a lot to Mom and Dad about Liberty University,” Gary Mathena said. “They’ve always had tremendous respect for its vision and what it’s doing to Train Champions for Christ.”
Gary Mathena learned more about the plans for the School of Music when he traveled with some of its staff members to Moscow, Russia, for a worship conference last fall. Upon his return to Roanoke, he invited his parents to pay a visit to Liberty.
“Seeing what God is doing with the music school and the ways He is blessing it … it just captured my mom and dad’s heart,” Mathena said.
Before leaving campus, they met twice with Whaley and expressed their interest in answering his prayer to provide more scholarships as the program grows.
“Mom is the first to tell you that this gift is for one purpose only — for God’s glory and the furtherance of His kingdom,” Gary Mathena said. “That’s what she wrote on the memo of the check.”
Half of the $2 million donation will establish an endowment fund to help finance future scholarships. The 60 one-year scholarships — 15 to rising seniors, 20 to incoming freshmen, and 25 to rising sophomores and juniors — vary in monetary value, ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. They include The Mathena Family New Student Music Scholarship, which will award $2,500 to 20 School of Music incoming freshmen; The John G. Gage Instrumental Music Scholarship; and The Jack Price Music Scholarship, which each will grant $5,000 to eight rising sophomore music or music and worship majors participating in an approved praise team or music chamber group.
The first 11 scholarship recipients honored in April were Emma Burnham, Lauren Bentley, Bryan Clark, Todd Holloway, Mary Lawrence, Sebastien Douyon, Joel Fernando, Mike Hines, Kristin Quint, Christopher Rhodes, and Magdalena Schroeder.
|Gary Mathena and his wife, Donnita, are recognized at the April 23, 2014, School of Music Convocation.|
Gary Mathena will further his family’s desire to support Liberty as the School of Music’s new Director of Practica, effective May 5. He will facilitate students’ placement in practicums and internships at churches and other ministries. He will also be working on his doctorate starting this fall while continuing to teach classes, as he has done for the past two and a half years.
“There are so many neat things going on right now in the School of Music with this wonderful new scholarship program and new building, which is an answer to prayer,” Gary Mathena said. “God has his hand of blessing on (Liberty) at large and the School of Music in particular. I’m very blessed to be a part of that and excited to get started.”
The School of Music officially launched in 2012 (when the Center for Worship and the Music & Humanities department merged), becoming the seventh largest in the country. Its future home, the Center for Music and the Worship Arts, is under construction and is scheduled to open in Fall 2015.