Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

October 15, 2012 (San Diego) – San Diego State University announced on Thursday, October 11 a transformative gift from two former faculty members. Professors Emeriti Carey Wall and Terry O’Donnell have partnered on a $2.4 million dollar gift to SDSU’s musical theater program.

Wall’s and O’Donnell’s gift will endow a faculty position in the nationally renowned program.  The funding ensures SDSU musical theatre students will continue to have opportunities to learn from top faculty members.

“It is a momentous day for the University,” said SDSU President Elliot Hirshman. “This support for musical theatre will impact thousands of students, faculty, alumni and emeriti. I am thrilled to be moving a critical program forward.”

As one of only two MFA (master’s of fine arts) programs in the nation, SDSU prepares emerging artists for careers as performers, directors, music directors, choreographers and educators in the field of Musical Theatre. The two-year program is unique in its integration of conservatory-style training with academic study. Students and graduates of the MFA Musical Theatre Program have performed on and off Broadway, in regional theatres, in national and international tours, and on local stages. Perhaps most importantly, graduates ensure the legacy of this unique American art form by teaching in colleges and universities across the nation.

Wall is a professor emerita from the College of Arts & Letters. She was a professor of English (specializing in American Literature) for 37 years, and served as the Department Chair for a dozen years. She is a founding member of SDSU Phi Beta Kappa Chapter, and since 2002 has been the chapter’s corresponding secretary. She has supported the musical theatre program for the last ten years through scholarships and support of the Archive.

"I'm impressed by the quality of the faculty's work, by the changes they bring about in their graduate students in the course of two years, as well as in the research component of the MFA program,” said Wall. “My gift will help to train the next generation of musical theatre educators for universities across the country. I hope others will contribute to the MFA in Musical Theatre program so the Archive can be expanded and the graduate students can have access to an additional layer of specialized instructors."

O’Donnell retired in 2008 after 35 years as a professor in both theatre and music. He is a founding member of the musical theatre MFA program, and taught in the program since its inception in 1982, O’Donnell is well-known across campus as the carillonneur of the 204-bell University Carillon.

“Our unique MFA Musical Theatre curriculum is designed to balance both performance skills and scholarship; It is compelling to see what this program does to develop young artists,” said O’Donnell. “Over the last 30 years, I’ve observed our program graduates make extraordinary contributions both as artists and educators.”

“Our faculty are the cornerstone of the SDSU experience. It is fitting that two such committed and dedicated faculty would collaborate on this gift to ensure the future of SDSU musical’s theatre program,” said Joyce Gattas, dean of SDSU’ College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts.

This latest gift brings support of The Campaign for SDSU to $345 million to date. SDSU embarked on its ambitious $500 million fundraising campaign in July 2007 with the goal of supporting its students, faculty and programs and propelling university into the ranks of the top public research universities in the U.S.


Error message

Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at