After a generous donation from longtime Lumberjack supporters Michael and Karen Kitt, Northern Arizona University will name the School of Music in their honor and create the Michael and Karen Kitt Directorship within the school.
The donation, which was made official last week, aims to further the shared goal of NAU and the Kitts in elevating the School of Music to a higher level of excellence. Both Michael and Karen are first-generation college students and understand the importance of a variety of educational experiences in shaping their own lives. They want to ensure college students today and in the future benefit from top-tier musical performances. The Kitt School of Music also offers a place for members of the Flagstaff and northern Arizona communities to enjoy beautiful and compelling performances, and they want to ensure that tradition continues.
This gift will directly support the School of Music’s priorities, including increasing NAU’s recognition of outstanding faculty and students, providing opportunities for future generations of music teachers, conductors, performers and scholars, and offering engaging community performances that can be enjoyed by all.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be able to name a school with such a distinguished faculty and administrative staff,” the Kitts said. “We look forward to many accomplishments on behalf of the School of Music and the Flagstaff community in the years to come.”
President José Luis Cruz Rivera said the Kitts, who have long supported NAU’s mission, are devoted and active supporters of the arts and sciences and true leaders in the philanthropic sphere. They have an unmatched legacy at NAU, through their lead gift to Kitt Recital Hall, and by creating endowments including the Michael and Karen Kitt Orchestral Conducting Scholarship, the Michael and Karen Kitt Directorship for the School of Music and the Michael and Karen Kitt Professorship for Piano.
“The Kitts’ foresight, leadership and generosity have had a transformative impact on NAU faculty, students and the Flagstaff community, elevating NAU’s prestige in Arizona and the region for excellence in the musical arts,” President Cruz Rivera said. “In recognition of their incredible legacy, NAU is proud to name the Kitt School of Music in their honor.”
Christopher Boyer, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, said this gift, which is the largest in the college’s history, advances CAL’s teaching and performance mission and serves as a beacon of the transformative capacity that a donation such as this can have for students and faculty. The resources that will be made available will help in recruiting students and faculty to NAU and serve as an important bridge between NAU and surrounding communities.
“Karen and Michael Kitt have been among the most important and enthusiastic supporters of the School of Music ever since they arrived to Flagstaff nearly a decade ago,” he said. “Their philanthropy has allowed the university to build the Kitt Recital Hall as well as to provide scholarships to music students. Beyond that, they have served as leaders in generating support for NAU’s music program within Flagstaff and throughout the region.”