Department of Music Receives Largest-Ever Music Scholarship Endowment

A transformational gift from the late Virginia Hagan Meeker will have a profound impact on current and future Emporia State University music education majors.

The Emporia State University Department of Music received a gift from Virginia Meeker's estate in excess of $400,000 to benefit the George J. and Virginia Hagan Meeker Music Scholarship — making this their largest-ever music scholarship endowment.

"Words are inadequate to describe our deep appreciation of Mrs. Meeker's generosity," said Dr. Brent Thomas, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. "Support for music education majors is critically important given that fine and performing arts teachers have been recently listed as a critical shortage area in Kansas schools.

"In addition, the George J. and Virginia Hagan Meeker Music Scholarship Fund will help Emporia State University attract the most talented music education majors."

The George J. and Virginia Hagan Meeker Scholarship Fund will provide scholarships for students majoring in music education, attending or planning to attend Emporia State who graduated from a Kansas high school with a 3.0 minimum grade point average.

Virginia Meeker established the scholarship in honor of her late husband, George J. Meeker (BME-Music, '47; MS-Music, '52) and his love of and appreciation for music. George Meeker not only earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Emporia State, he was a past president of the Emporia State Alumni Association.

After being a music educator in Kansas from 1945-1951, George had a 33-year career in school administration from 1951 as a principal until his retirement in 1984 as a superintendent. He was an Army veteran of World War II as he served with headquarters of the 77th Evacuation Hospital Unit in the European and African Theaters. While in the Army, George also played in a big band.

Virginia Meeker attended Emporia State as a student for two years. While she was at Emporia State, she was a secretary for Hornet graduate and Kansas Sports Hall of Famer Fran Welch. She supported George Meeker in his educational endeavors, and shared his love for music and Emporia State University.

Besides music, a second passion of Virginia Meeker's was antiques, and she created an antique business known as Virginia's Antiques. For 40 years, she was a regular exhibitor of quality country and English antiques at antique shows throughout the Midwest and the South.

"Since she was very bright, it did well," said Jim Warren (BSB-Personnel Management, '56), nephew of George and Virginia Meeker. "Aunt Virginia continued to go to shows and exhibit antiques. Her closest friends later in life were people she met in that profession. She had a high level of credibility with those friends she met because of the knowledge she had. Aunt Virginia was bright enough to understand the profession, remember it and do it well. I thought the world about both her and Uncle George."

Fr. Laird MacGregor, a nephew of George and Virginia Meeker, explained his aunt's inspiration behind making her gift.

"Music education was important to George," said Fr. MacGregor. "Passing along and sharing the abundance they had represents their closely held Christian beliefs. It certainly doesn't surprise me that they would do something like this, given the importance he put in music education, their love of God and being good, generous Christians."

Dr. Allan Comstock, Emporia State Department of Music chair, and Dr. Gaile Stephens, assistant professor of music education, are both very grateful for Virginia Meeker's gift.

"When we learned of Mrs. Meeker's generous gift, we were all thrilled beyond description," said Comstock. "Being a music education major requires so much time and commitment from a student. The scholarships made possible by her endowment will enable students to spend less time working at an outside job and spend more time on honing their skills.

"Generations of music education majors will benefit from this gift, as will the generations of children who will work with these future teachers," Comstock continued. "We are extremely grateful to her."

"The love of music is a lifelong endeavor that brings a joy that defies words," said Stephens. "The Meekers recognized the impact of music and chose to share their love for music not only with the current generation of music teachers, but with the countless students these future teachers may encounter. Through their extremely generous scholarship endowment, they've ensured that the legacy of music education at Emporia State will continue to grow and expand to inspire generations to come.

"Whether it will be in the high school choral class or orchestra, the middle school band room or the elementary general music classroom, this gift will spread far beyond the walls of Emporia State into the music classrooms and lives of students all over Kansas and beyond," Stephens continued.

"We simply cannot thank the Meekers enough not only for the legacy they honor, but also for the future of music making they have gifted to all of us."

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