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Long-time professor gifts $4 million to establish new music center

The gift will establish the Budds Center for American Music Studies in the MU School of Music

September 18th, 2019

Story Contact: Sheena Rice, 573-882-8353,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – For nearly four decades, more than 10,000 University of Missouri students have learned about all styles of American music, including jazz, pop and rock, while taking notes during one of Michael Budds’ lectures. Today, MU officials announced that Budds has gifted $4 million to establish a new center devoted to the research and performance of American music: the Budds Center for American Music Studies.

“Dr. Budds has successfully struck a chord with our students for generations, finding ways to connect with them through the power of music,” MU Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright said. “Research has long indicated that music plays a vital role in our lives, from improving mood to strengthening memory. Thanks to Dr. Budds’ esteemed career in teaching, his students graduate with a well-rounded understanding of the role music plays in our lives. I am grateful that the next generation of Tigers will be able to study music in a center bearing his family name.”

The Budds Center for American Music Studies will be housed in the School of Music in the College of Arts and Science. The center will promote American music through research and performance. In addition, the center will collect and house sheet music, manuscripts and other academic materials that can be actively used by students and faculty for research. The university hopes that the center will enrich the student experience through performances, lectures and conferences while contributing to the university’s research mission.

“Dr. Budds has shared his passion and deep knowledge of music with thousands of students,” said Patricia Okker, dean of the College of Arts and Science. “Thanks to his inspiring generosity, his legacy will be a permanent feature at Mizzou. This gift will ensure our students will have the best resources available when studying one of our greatest treasures — American music.”

Budds came to MU in 1982 and is now a Curators Distinguished Teaching Professor of musicology. He is a nationally recognized expert on American music. During his 37 year career, he has authored numerous books and writings on American music, African American music and Victorian music. In 2000, he was named a William T. Kemper Fellow for Excellence in Teaching. In 2014, Budds was inducted into the Missouri Music Hall of Fame. He was the first music scholar to have his name added to the wall, joining a list of musicians that includes Sheryl Crow.

Budds retired as a full-time faculty member in 2019; however, he continues to teach one class per semester and he will be involved in the center.

“I have long argued that music is both an emotional and an intellectual experience,” Budds said. “It has been the honor of a lifetime to teach so many students about the importance and history of music. It is my hope that this center will help the School of Music at Missouri’s flagship university expand the understanding and impact of all music through performance, composition and research. From my perspective — without music, the world would be flat.”