OGDEN — Weber State University officials announced Wednesday the creation of an endowed program for arts-integrated learning made possible by a $3 million gift from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation.
The Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program will train future educators to incorporate artistic instruction into their content areas as well as provide outreach opportunities to children in northern Utah.
Madonne Miner, dean of the Lindquist College of Arts and Humanities at WSU, said that by pairing core subjects with the arts, students become more enthused about learning and more easily retain and internalize information. She gave the example of music notes, which range in numerical value from fractions to whole numbers, as something that could be used in a math class to add and subtract and demonstrate rhythm.
"School districts have not been able to maintain funding for specific arts specialists, and instead they have core content teachers," Miner said. "What we hope to have happen is those core content teachers, after working with Beverley Taylor Sorenson folks, will feel comfortable about pulling upon and drawing from the arts to teach their content material."
The new program at WSU joins similar endowments by the Sorenson Legacy Foundation at the University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Utah State University, Southern Utah University and Westminster College.
Ann Crocker, president of the Sorenson Legacy Foundation and daughter of the late Beverley Taylor Sorenson, said her mother would be thrilled to see the latest addition to the foundation's work.
"This is my mother's dream," Crocker said. "This was her long passion to be able to promote the education of arts throughout the state."
In addition to supporting the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts Learning Program, the $3 million gift from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation will establish an endowed chair to oversee the program, with Tamara Goldbogen being selected to serve in that position after a national search of candidates.
As chairwoman, Goldbogen will partner with the Utah State Office of Education and other higher education officials to promote arts-integrated initiatives in the state.
“Weber State University has acclaimed university and community outreach programs in the visual, performing and literary arts, as well as advanced arts education facilities,” Goldbogen said in a prepared statement. “As such, the university is well-positioned to prepare teachers and serve the children of northern Utah through music, dance, dramatic and visual arts, and I’m thrilled to be involved in this wonderful program.”
Miner said the university has worked in the past with local grade schools to provide artistic activities for students, but those efforts have been intermittent and "stop-gap." She said the gift from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation will allow for more structured and consistent outreach programs for families in the community.
"What this endowment allows us to do is establish far more continuity and regularity in what we’re providing to the five school districts in our area," she said. "I feel fortunate to be in a state where someone like Beverley Taylor Sorenson had the foresight to recognize how arts truly can successfully change an elementary student's life."
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