East Texan's Estate Gift Supports Baylor Endowed Scholarships, Center For Christian Music Studies

July 18, 2007

Contact: Larry Smith, assistant vice president for gift planning, Baylor University Development, (254) 710-2561

Baylor University announced today a $1.2 million gift from the estate of John Reagan Harris of Center, Texas, that will establish the John Reagan Harris Endowed Scholarship Fund, as well as the John Reagan Harris Endowed Music Ministry Excellence Fund within the Baylor School of Music's Center for Christian Music Studies.

"I appreciate John Reagan Harris' generosity in supporting two significant initiatives for Baylor," said Baylor University President John M. Lilley. "Mr. Harris' gift truly contributes to our pursuit of the goals set out in Baylor 2012: as Baylor's endowed scholarship program grows, we will attract even more top-tier students, and in developing the Center for Christian Music Studies, Baylor will attract world-class faculty and emerge as the leader in this field of study."

Harris made a lifelong commitment to education, music and the church. Upon receiving his bachelor of arts degree in business, English and piano from Baylor in 1950, he worked several years in the family business, then went back to school to earn his master of education degree. Harris taught English, Spanish and business at Center High School in east Texas before returning to the business world by opening a home center and lumberyard.

Harris' scholarship has been designated with preference to graduates of his alma mater and one-time employer, Center High School, or from other high schools in Shelby County, Texas. Approximately 84 percent of Baylor students receive some type of financial assistance, and Baylor's endowed scholarship program assists more than 3,000 students each year.

"Scholarships bring Baylor within financial reach of every deserving student," said Bill Dube, director of Baylor's endowed scholarship program. "Mr. Harris' scholarship establishes a legacy that will support generations upon generations of future Baylor students."

Throughout his various careers, Harris also was an active member of First Baptist Church of Center, Texas. He served as church treasurer, pianist and organist, sang in the choir and was instrumental in the remodeling of the church and the installation of the organ.

"Though I did not have the opportunity to meet Mr. Harris, in learning about him I noted that through his life what really held constant was music," said Dr. Will May, dean of Baylor's School of Music. "We're very appreciative to Mr. Harris for investing in the future of music ministry in this way."

"This gift to the Center for Christian Music Studies will allow Mr. Harris' love for the music of the church to live on, and it will impact hundreds of church musicians in the future," added Dr. Randall Bradley, professor of church music and director for the Center for Christian Music Studies. "We need people who are willing to support the mission of the church through giving to the Center for Christian Music Studies. The gift from the estate of John Reagan Harris is a significant step in helping the Center reach its goals."

The vision for the Center for Christian Music Studies is to provide leadership in all aspects of Christian music by becoming the preeminent Christian music center worldwide and to foster the growth and effectiveness of efforts to utilize Christian music to its God-given potential. The establishment of the John Reagan Harris Endowed Music Ministry Excellence Fund will fund current and emerging programs in the Center's Music Ministry division, a comprehensive area involving music education within the church, training of ministers and assisting ministers at all stages of life.

For more information about the Center for Christian Music Studies and endowed scholarships or to make a gift, please contact Larry Smith at (254) 710-2561.

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