A Charlotte couple who say they “love UNC Charlotte” have donated $2 million to the university to help launch a marching band in time for the school’s move to big-time NCAA football next fall.
UNCC alumni Vickie and Gene Johnson made the announcement Thursday at the site of a future marching band center that will be named for the couple.
School officials plan to have a 150-member marching band ready next fall, when UNCC’s football program, now in its second year, moves to the Football Bowl Subdivision, the top level of NCAA football.
The marching band will bolster a student drum line that has been performing at football games.
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“We have seen, firsthand, the impact that the drum line has had on both students and alumni,” Gene Johnson said. “And we are very excited to help expand this tradition.
“Vickie and I love UNC Charlotte, and it’s a privilege to be able to invest in its young people.”
Vickie Johnson, a 1971 UNCC graduate, has two degrees from the school and has served on the alumni board of directors. Gene Johnson, from the UNCC class of 1973, has been president of the alumni board and a member of the board of trustees. Last May, he became the first UNCC alumnus to be awarded an honorary degree.
School officials said a portion of the Johnsons’ gift will establish a marching band scholarship fund. They said the marching band eventually will grow to up to 350 members. Jeffrey Miller was hired in August as associate director of bands and director of athletic bands, and he will head the marching band.
Ken Lambla, dean of the university’s College of Arts + Architecture, said “recruiting talented music students is as essential to team success as recruiting outstanding athletes.”
“With this gift,” he added, “the Johnsons provide the foundation for a broader fundraising campaign to make the marching band a premier part of our university’s spirit and culture.”