Floren Thompson Directorship

The Program
The Floren Thompson Endowed Directorship is designed to honor the lifelong achievements of a truly legendary New Mexico music educator. It is a permanent endowment, the first of its kind at ENMU, which will bring distinguished figures from throughout the world of instrumental music to the Portales campus. Their residence will parallel special events in the School of Music and allow this expertise to be shared with not only undergraduate and graduate students, but also with area music educators, their students and the public. In addition, the Floren Thompson Directorship will bring ENMU to students throughout the Southwest. This program will continue the use of touring instrumental ensembles to attract students, both music majors and non-music majors, to the university. These efforts will serve as a catalyst for recruiting efforts, set a standard of excellence in the music profession, and provide a lasting impact on students throughout the region. 

The Endowment
The Floren Thompson Directorship is a permanent endowment established through the Friends of Eastern Foundation. Only the interest will be used in this program. A steering committee of band alumni, current music directors, local businessmen and college administrators guide the work of the Floren Thompson Directorship. Its goal is to continue the standard of excellence that Floren Thompson established. The Floren Thompson Directorship seeks to permanently endow the principles of continued concern and commitment to give young, talented and deserving musicians the best education possible.

The Floren and Mary Thompson Instrumental Scholarship Fund

This annual award was established in 1988 to provide scholarship money for upper-division instrumental music education majors at ENMU who play in the University band. Scholarship winners must participate in the band for both semesters of the year of the ward. At present the Fund is awarding two scholarships of $400 each. Donations may be sent to the Friends of Eastern Foundation. For more information, please call the Office of Development at (505) 562-2412. Or send your e-mail to: Claudia Crowell, Interim Director Development.

Biography of Mr. Floren Thompson

When Mr. T came to Eastern New Mexico College (later University) from Iowa in 1950 as Instructor of Woodwinds and Assistant Director of Bands, he had no idea – or even intention – of staying for almost 40 years. But the opportunities and challenges to help build an instrumental music program in a small college and the talented, receptive students made it a constantly rejuvenating experience. He was appointed Director of Bands in 1951, a post he held for 30 years, and worked closely with Maurice Stookey and Paul Strub, Deans of the School of Music. During those years, he served twice as Interim Dean, first after Mr. Stookey left and then after Dr. Strub’s death. Mr. Thompson retired from ENMU as Professor Emeritus July 1, 1987.

A graduate of Northeast Missouri State Teacher’s College and the University of Iowa, he built an award-winning high school band in Charlton, Iowa after serving in the 13th Armored Division Band in World War II. After he came to ENMU, he soon became known throughout the southwest as a conductor whose instrumental groups performed with an articulate, exceptionally musical style. During his tenure they performed for Southwest Division Music Educators conventions and for two conventions of the American Bandmaster’s Association.

For many years he was director and conductor for the ENMU "Sunshine Music Camp," which brought as many as 600 high school students for a two-week camp. Through his efforts, ENMU students were active in Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma, honorary national band fraternities for college men and women. Mr. Thompson served as Grand National President of KKY from 1961 to 1963. Two members of the ENMU bands, Paula (Cox) Reed and Mary Lu Brooks, were national presidents of Tau Beta Sigma.

Mr. Thompson served as President of the Southwest Division, College Band Director’s Association and was recognized in Who’s Who in the West, Who’s Who in American Education, Outstanding Educators of America and World Who’s Who of Musicians. In 1986, he was named New Mexico Music Educator of the Year and was the guest conductor for the New Mexico All-State Symphonic Band in January 1990. In 1988, Mr. Thompson received the distinguished Service Award and in 1999 he received the Distinguished Faculty Emeritus Award from ENMU. He conducted many clinics for public school musicians, judged music festivals and served as a consultant. Mr. Thompson passed away on 22 June, 2002.

There's a nice memorial on the New Mexico Music Educator's Association site: http://nmmea.com/thompson.htm

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