Forty years have passed since Tommye A. Moss, of Odessa, donated a Holtkamp organ to the Texas Tech School of Music. The organ quickly became a fixture at the school's Hemmle Recital Hall.
Then, approximately 10 years ago, the organ was found in serious disrepair. Fixing it would be neither easy nor inexpensive ... so Tech music school director William Ballenger put on his running shoes.
A dedicated runner, Ballenger pledged to run 1,000 miles to draw attention to the cause and help match the $175,000 provided in a challenge grant from the CH Foundation. Commemorative "See Bill Run!" T-shirts were released in October 2010.
Ballenger ran the last of his 1,000 miles on March 26, 2011. The challenge grant had been matched, and Ballenger invited everyone and anyone to help celebrate by running his final 3.1 miles with him.
Mind you, Ballenger accomplished so much more for Tech, his faculty and music students during his 13 years at the helm of Tech's music school. Frankly, I had assumed that he would represent the Texas Tech School of Music and Tech's J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts until the day he retired.
That was before he revealed that he had received a job offer he just could not turn down.
Indeed, Bill Ballenger leaves Texas Tech to become the director of the school of music at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. His OSU appointment officially begins on July 1.
With that in mind, Tech's board of regents voted last week (May 18, specifically) to honor Ballenger's 13 years of contributions and leadership as TTU music school director by naming the aforementioned instrument the Great Ballenger Holtkamp Organ.
Meanwhile, Keith Dye accepted the appointment of interim director of the Tech school of music for the 2017-2018 academic year, while a national search is conducted for Ballenger's eventual replacement.