A $2.5M Gift Establishes Professorship Honoring Richard Winslow ’40

Richard Winslow '40 received a Doctor of Letters at the 2010 Commencement. President Roth announced the establishment of the Richard K. Winslow chair in music, made possible by a generous gift from the Mayer & Morris Kaplan Family Foundation. (Photo by Bill Burkhart)

Honoring a professor of music emeritus who oversaw the establishment of Wesleyan University’s renowned program in world music, the university has established the Richard K. Winslow Chair in Music.

The chair is made possible through a generous $2.5 million gift from the Mayer & Morris Kaplan Family Foundation. The foundation’s gift expresses the appreciation of Burt Kaplan ’62, who took an introductory course in Western classical music from Winslow that proved to be a significant influence in his life. Professor of Music Mark Slobin will be the first holder of the chair.

“Dick Winslow is legendary on campus and among generations of Wesleyan graduates whom he led to new and life-changing understandings of music,” says Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth. “I can’t imagine a more fitting expression of appreciation for a great teacher than the establishment of a chair in his honor, and I am deeply grateful to Burt Kaplan and the Mayer & Morris Kaplan Family Foundation.”

Winslow ’40, is a prolific composer of western music who taught at Wesleyan over a period of four decades, retiring as the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music and chair of the department.  He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in composition in 1956. Later in the ’50s, and through the ’80’s, he played a crucial role in the expansion of Wesleyan’s curriculum to include non-Western music, avant-garde music and jazz.

Largely through his initiative and organizational skill, Wesleyan developed a rich and inclusive program in world music that offers doctoral studies in ethnomusicology. It attracts students and artists from around the world.

This year, Winslow celebrated his 70th Class Reunion in May and was awarded an honorary degree at Wesleyan’s Commencement ceremony.

Kaplan, a history major at Wesleyan and Harvard MBA who forged a successful career in business, credits Winslow for his enduring love of classical music. The foundation’s gift is intended to ensure that musical explorations—from Western Classical Music to the rich array of world music—remain available to students, and particularly to non-music majors, as was Kaplan.

Burt and Anne Kaplan and the family foundation have supported philanthropic efforts in the Chicago area that include the Joffrey Ballet, North Lawndale College Preparatory Charter High School, the Ravinia Festival and the Museum of Contemporary Art. At Wesleyan they have been staunch supporters of student financial aid.