MARQUETTE - Northern Michigan University's music department is the recipient of a creative arts endowment by the Jonathan Hildner and David Ruff families as part of This Decisive Season: The Campaign for Northern Michigan University.

The Jonathan and Margaret Hildner Endowment is the first non-scholarship endowment ever designated to the NMU music department, and will provide annual funding for the sole purpose of student-enhancing projects fostered by the department.

Ruff of Marquette, a 1971 NMU graduate, said the endowment to honor his mother and stepfather was designed to challenge Northern students, faculty and staff to continue to come up with creative music endeavors and to challenge Marquette community members to get involved in supporting the arts.

"We sincerely thank the Ruff family for this generous gift," said Don Grant, NMU music department head.  "Because of the wide parameters of the endowment, it can be used for a variety of projects such as funding student creative efforts, commissioning the composition of musical works, and funding for travel that is related to performance opportunities away from campus."

Jonathan Hildner and his family originally created the endowment in late 2001 in memory of his wife Margaret (Sager), an artist and musician.

Jonathan, who passed away on March 8, 2002, also had a strong interest in educational projects and issues, having been a high school science and physical education teacher and coach before serving in the U.S. Navy during World War 11.  Following his military duty, he worked with the textbook publishing company, World Book Company (now Harcourt-Brace Company).

"My mother enjoyed attending the music concerts at NMU, especially when my daughter Patty, a 2001 music graduate, was involved," said Ruff.  "I think my mother and stepfather would be pleased to know this kind of effort was being made to support the arts in their names."

Ruff, who helped his stepfather create the endowment, said he has enjoyed giving back to his alma mater and challenges all NMU alumni to "find a way to give back to the University by supporting a program you are passionate about."

"I'm an alum as is my wife, Ruth (Paynter Ruff), and youngest daughter.  I have another daughter who has returned to NMU.  Between our two families, there are four generations of NMU graduates, including Ruth's mother and grandmother, and two of my stepfather's brothers," said Ruff.  "So, Northern's been good to us."

The goal of This Decisive Season is to raise $30 million in private giving to NMU by June 2003 of which more than $29 million in gifts have been pledged to date.

Prepared By
Cindy Paavola
Director of Communications