George Mason University’s School of Music will be renamed the Reva and Sid Dewberry Family School of Music, in honor of the Dewberrys’ lifetime legacy of giving and generous support of the school. The decision was approved unanimously at the Feb. 27 Board of Visitors meeting.
“The name Dewberry symbolizes excellence, extraordinary commitment, innovation and long-standing relationships. Our School of Music embraces those same qualities, especially with our goal of excellence in all areas and having a very tangible path to get there,” said Linda Monson, the School of Music director who has been a faculty member at Mason since 1999. “To have our school be named after a benefactor who embodies all of these same qualities is such an honor.”
In addition to recent and pledged support of $1.8 million that will create a scholarship endowment, prior contributions from the Dewberrys include nearly $1.4 million for the creation of the Linda Apple Monson Scholars Endowed Fund. The family also helped lead the Steinway Initiative, which allowed the school to achieve even higher status as an All-Steinway School in 2007.
“I want the School of Music to be the best school in the United States and the world, not only for [future] teachers but also for performers,” said Sid Dewberry, who began learning piano from Monson at age 75 to fulfill a life goal.
“My dream is to put Mason on the top of the heap,” the now 92-year-old said. “I think we’re well on our way to doing that.”
“[The Dewberrys] have been transformational,” said Rick Davis, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). “Because Sid stepped up, we are able to offer even more scholarship support, which allows us to compete for students who would like to come [to Mason] but are also getting major scholarship offers from other great schools.”
The Dewberrys’ gifts will make the School of Music the first donor-named school within the CVPA.
“[Mason is] still practically brand-new on the planet, and we’ve done so much so quickly,” Davis said. “Moments like this are signs of arrival for a college.”
Mason’s institutional maturity is also becoming more widely recognized, Monson and Davis said, adding that students from across the country and around the world are choosing to study here.
“[Mason’s School of Music] trains artists, and artists help make the world a better place,” Monson said. “Mr. Dewberry has experienced this—he has witnessed it himself. He’s seen what our artists here in the School of Music are doing, and he wants to help propel our school to the highest level possible.”
The Dewberry family has a long-standing commitment to Mason. Dewberry Hall within the Johnson Center, as well as the Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering within the Volgenau School of Engineering, have also been named in their honor.
Mason’s younger status among universities makes financial support of the college even more impactful, as it creates unprecedented scholarship opportunities for many talented students, Monson and Davis said.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Dewberrys and to our Friends of Music, who support us in all ways in helping us to raise scholarship support,” Monson said. “We want to continue building our music scholarships and endowments and we have many ways in which one can help to be a part of this wonderful legacy to our School of Music.”
The Dewberrys and the renaming will be celebrated at the Sept. 13 Grand Piano Celebration at the Center for the Arts at 3 p.m. in Fairfax. The concert will be open to the public.
March 3, 2020 / by Mariam Aburdeineh