School of Music announces grant to develop Budds Center for American Music Studies

The $4 million gift will develop a center that seeks to be nationally recognized for researching, teaching, archiving and celebrating American music history, specifically Missouri music culture.
Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright; announced that professor Michael Budds gifted the MU School of Music $4 million to establish the Budds Center for American Music Studies. Joining them to make the announcement were Dean Patricia Okker, retired professor William Bondeson, and Julia Gaines, director of the School of Music. Courtesy of the MU News Bureau

To continue his legacy at MU, former music professor Dr. Michael Budds donated $4 million to the School of Music to create the Budds Center for American Music Studies, the university announced during a gift ceremony on Sept. 18.

The center promises to “change the future of music education at Mizzou,” Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said during the ceremony. The facility focuses on researching, teaching, archiving and celebrating musical achievement throughout American history while emphasizing the musical culture within Missouri.

“It's always important to be able to focus on something that you really excel at,” Julia Gaines, director of the School of Music, said. “It really helps dive into some depth in addition to breadth. I think the center is really going to allow us to offer even more opportunities for American music study than we currently do.”

The Budds Center for American Music Studies will provide on-campus resources for music and non-music majors alike as well as members of the public through genres like jazz, pop, hip-hop, classical and country.

Dr. Budds hopes the center will become a national model for the study of American musical accomplishment and gain national recognition for its preservation and academic study of American music.

“[The project] highlights the importance of education and how much of an impact you have on people,” Cartwright said. “But it also highlights excellence. Clearly, from the awards that he's won, he's someone who was a remarkable scholar and also a remarkable educator. We want our students to have access [to] and be around people who are exceptional at what they do but also have this love and desire to participate with them in that process.”

The event focused on the legacy Budds left on the university, with alumni and Budds’ colleagues in attendance.

Until his retirement last year, Budds was involved with the School of Music for 37 years. From 1982 to 2012, Budds taught a course titled Jazz, Pop, and Rock, which totaled over 10,000 students taught. Budds was also inducted in the Missouri Music Hall of Fame in 2014.

In addition to alumni and faculty recognizing Budds’ impact on the university, School of Music students attended the event to applaud his contribution as well. Sophomore McCade Gordon recalls hearing about Budds’ teaching style from upperclassmen before taking his Introduction to Music in the United States course.

“You hear about [the class] from all the upperclassmen and all the alumni,” Gordon said. “My high school choir director went to school here at Mizzou and he had Dr. Budds when he was a student back in 1980. I mean obviously, just everyone in the School of Music knows who he is, and he's been around forever.”

The expected completion date for the project is currently unknown. The School of Music is focused on finishing the new building, set to be completed in January, which will free up space on the first floor of the Fine Arts Building to create the Budds Center.

During his announcement of the donation, Cartwright emphasized the importance of developing the arts at MU. He mentioned through developments like the Budds Center, as well as the Artist in Residence Program, the university “instills creativity in people.”

“If you look at how society is changing, one of the top skills that people are looking for in any industry now is creativity,” Cartwright said. “The art is the perfect vehicle for teaching creativity. The more that we could have our students learn to be creative, to take those chances, the better it is for them, the better it is for society.”

Edited by Laura Evans |

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