Joe Wyatt
Published September 19, 2017

Vickie Wilks Wisian, a retired Lubbock-area entrepreneur, has a passion for music and a unique affinity for Amarillo College. Wisian, the mother of AC President Russell Lowery-Hart, has given the College $100,000 to equip the Music Department with a pair of sparkling new grand pianos.

“I’m always gratified by the fantastic support our College receives, but it’s truly something special when support comes from your own mother,” AC President Russell Lowery-Hart said. “I was not involved in the gift at all, so it was especially joyful for me to see my mother develop her own relationship with the College.”

Wisian’s generous gift, made through the AC Foundation, led to the College’s recent acquisition of twin Shirgeru series grand pianos from Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing Co. Wisian’s love for music goes back generations.

 

“Music has always been an important generational thing in our family,” she said. “I remember my mother playing our family organ, which was brought here from Germany in the 1800s.”

A native of Post, Wisian received a music scholarship to attend South Plains College in the 1960s. She completed her undergraduate degree at Texas Tech University and taught 24 years in Slaton as a speech pathologist and special education director. In addition to her years in education, she and her late husband, Elroy, spearheaded a successful entrepreneurship in Lubbock.

PianoHPWisian has a philanthropist heart. She and Elroy established the Vickie Wilks Wisian scholarship at her alma mater in Levelland, and the recital hall at South Plains College bears her name as well. She says her decision to contribute to AC stems from the great enthusiasm for music she has seen exhibited by her Amarillo granddaughter.

The AC Music Department is currently in the process of upgrading the College’s fleet of 27 pianos. This donation, coupled with a purchasing relationship formed over the summer between AC and Kawai, enabled the College to obtain new instruments at approximately half their retail cost.“Of course I have a soft spot in my heart for Amarillo College,” Wisian said. “My son has obviously made it his life’s work, but it was actually my granddaughter’s interest in music that sparked my donation. I wanted to do something related to music that might help my granddaughter or someone like her. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”

“My students are very excited to be learning on these wonderful new pianos,” said Dr. Diego Caetano, assistant professor of music. “They are such an improvement over the old pianos that I have trouble even describing the difference – night and day, perhaps.

“The great thing is, because of these top-of-the-line instruments, the students are more motivated and working harder than ever.”

Kawai pianos are built using the newest carbon fiber technology, they are less affected by fluctuating heat and humidity levels common in West Texas; they will remain stable longer and require less maintenance over time.

AC plans to replace the college’s collection of pianos with Kawai pianos, which would then earn the college the designation of “EPIC partner”. This level makes the college more attractive for recruitment as only 13 schools globally have this designation.