Marietta College expects to begin recruiting music therapy majors by the 2018 spring semester after receiving a $1 million donation to start the program.
In January, Don and Leslie Ritter made the donation to Marietta to start up the program that has been “spoken about for many years,” according to Marshall Kimball, associate professor of the music department.
“When Don and Leslie Ritter expressed an interest in making a large donation to get the program going, we were excited beyond belief,” said Kimball.
Kimball and new music therapy professor, Yadira Albornoz, are currently writing the course curriculum which will be up for review by the curriculum committee in mid-October.
Albornoz, who came from Venezuela where she started the country’s first and only music therapy program, heard about Marietta’s need for music therapy professors through a colleague.
“I found compelling the sensitive investment made by Mr. Don Ritter and his family to start graduating high-quality Music Therapy students for the Marietta area,” Albornoz said.
Kimball and Albornoz share many hopes for the new program. One such hope is to enrich the surrounding community with board-certified music therapists who can improve the lives of struggling community members.
“We have people struggling with physical, mental and addiction issues and music therapy can help all these individuals have a better quality of life,” said Kimball. However, the Marietta area currently has only one certified music therapist.
Senior Marietta College student, Jonah Litman, has also noticed the need for music therapy in the Marietta area.
“I am excited about this program for what it will do for southeastern Ohio. There aren’t many programs that I’m aware of around here so this is a huge step forward,” Litman said.
Kimball expects to initially draw 12-15 students into the program for Fall 2018, but hopes to see the number grow to around 20 students annually.
Litman says he believes the implementation of this new major could grow the music department to become one of the largest majors on campus.
“Ideally, I would hope to see this program be one of the larger therapy programs in our region of southeastern Ohio,” Litman said.
The McKinney Media Building, which will become shared space for media majors and music therapy majors, is currently under construction and there is still purchasing of equipment to be done before the program will be fully operational.
“Lots of the construction is still going to be going on with the first facilities to be completed by Homecoming weekend. We will be holding a ribbon cutting for the new music therapy facilities in McKinney Hall on Homecoming Saturday at 4:30,” said Kimball.
Construction will continue throughout next summer, but the program will be up and running by August 2018.