Carnegie Mellon University
March 01, 2017

Carnegie Mellon Receives Largest Gift to its School of Music

$5 Million Will Establish New Chair for Head of School

Music Chorus singers

Two regional foundations created by the late Jack G. Buncher have given $5 million to support Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music in its College of Fine Arts. The gift is the largest in the history of the School of Music and will be used to endow the Jack G. Buncher Chair for the head of the school.

The gift was championed by Bernita Buncher, chair of the foundation that now bears her late father’s name, and is funded jointly by the Jack Buncher Foundation and the Jack G. Buncher Charitable Fund for Carnegie Mellon University. A first of its kind for the 105-year-old School of Music, the prestigious chair will enable the school to attract and retain distinguished scholars to lead its programs.

“We are deeply grateful to Bernita Buncher for her commitment to Carnegie Mellon and to Pittsburgh,” CMU President Subra Suresh said. “She is dedicated to enhancing the city’s institutions and culture. This is a powerful testament to her devotion to Carnegie Mellon, to the exceptional work of the Buncher foundations, and to the high regard in which the CMU School of Music is held in our community.”

“Carnegie Mellon is a jewel in the crown of Pittsburgh,” Bernita Buncher said. “I’m delighted to help the School of Music inspire these gifted student-musicians to develop their talent and take their place in the music field.”

Jack Buncher
Jack Buncher

A formal ceremony celebrating the gift and the installation of the head of the School of Music will be held this fall.

“Bernita inspires all of us with her dedication to music and to our students,” said College of Fine Arts Dean Dan Martin. “This historic gift will provide the head of the School of Music with the resources to advance our world-renowned program now and into the future.”

Founded in 1912, CMU’s School of Music, a rigorous conservatory environment, is fully accredited for undergraduate and graduate study and offers majors in every orchestral instrument, as well as voice, composition, organ, piano, bagpipes and guitar. Instrumentalists and vocalists are educated in a wide range of musical styles and periods by professional musicians and master instructors. This year, 118 undergraduates and 135 graduate students are enrolled in music programs.

The School of Music is part of the College of Fine Arts, founded in 1906 as one of the first comprehensive arts teaching institutes in the United States. Today, students learn, create and discover in world-renowned programs in architecture, art, design, drama and music. Currently, 23 of the musicians in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) are faculty members at the school, providing professional instruction in strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion.

Jack Buncher, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, first came to prominence in this city through the real-estate development company he built from a scrap metal business. In the early 1950s, Jack expanded the Buncher Co.’s interests by opening a business park in Leetsdale, Pa. Today, the company’s robust portfolio includes public warehousing, commodity transferring, railroad car parts and repair, construction and leasing of commercial real estate, and residential and hotel development.

Jack Buncher is recognized for his philanthropy as much as for his business achievements. In 1974, he founded the foundation, which has donated millions of dollars to a variety of local and global causes.

Bernita Buncher has followed her father’s example. She is well-known in the region for her advocacy of the arts, education and civic causes. A classical music enthusiast, she is a longtime supporter of CMU and the School of Music’s approach to training tomorrow’s musicians. As a trustee of the PSO, Bernita Buncher encourages a strong relationship between the PSO and the School of Music.