The jazz studies program will receive $6.3 million thanks to a generous donation from Max Baumgardner, a retired pilot and investor from Louisville. The “Max Baumgardner Endowed Fund for Excellence in Jazz Studies” will support faculty positions, student scholarships and additional programming.

 The substantial bequest is part of a $12.6 million total planned gift from Baumgardner. The remaining $6.3 million will go to UofL athletics in part to support student academic resources. 

 “This gift will preserve the jazz studies program and ensure that it remains the premiere program of its kind in the state for the foreseeable future,” said Christopher Doane, dean of the School of Music. “Not many university programs have support to this degree and we are exceedingly grateful to Max as our benefactor for recognizing the value of jazz studies and the significance of supporting the arts.”

 Baumgardner’s passion for music is one of the reasons he chose to focus his gift toward the university.

 “I’ve always loved music,” he said. “I’m sort of a fanatic.”

 Along with music, his other passion is UofL – where he attended for two years before joining U.S. Naval Aviation and deploying to the Korean War. He was an avid fan of the athletics teams when he was a student and that continues today.

 Of the $6.3 million for athletics, 10 percent will exclusively benefit academic programs supporting student athletes and the new academic resource center.

 “We are extremely grateful for the generosity of Max Baumgardner for the major gift that will be used to assist our student-athletes in achieving the academic success that we stress within our department,” said UofL Vice President/Director of Athletics Tom Jurich. “The academic success of our student-athletes and the importance of earning their degrees are among the most important objectives within our department, and this gift ensures that we will have the resources in place to impact the academic success of our student-athletes.”

 Baumgardner thanked his friends and advisers and said he hopes his gift will inspire others to think about making a lasting impact and “kicking in money of their own.”

 “It was neat accumulating this money with help along the way from people like Joe Wright, Joyce Meyer and John Snyder,” Baumgardner said. “But it’s even neater to give it away.”

Erica Walsh
Erica Walsh is the marketing director for the Office of Communications and Marketing. Her job lets her share UofL’s good news in all avenues of communications including UofL Magazine, advertising, content marketing and branding. Walsh joined UofL in 2014 after previously serving as the public relations specialist at Indiana University Southeast. Prior to her career in higher education communications she was an award-winning newspaper reporter. Red is one of her favorite colors and it’s a good thing, too, because she earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Western Kentucky University and her master’s in communication from UofL.