Gift honors career of celebrated Emporia State vocal music professor

June 13, 2014

She may not have directed a choir at Emporia State University since her retirement 31 years ago, but Rosamond Hirschorn’s name remains associated with legendary excellence in vocal music education. Now, thanks to a gift from a former student, her name is also attached to an endowed professorship in the Department of Music.

Arthur Piculell of Portland, Oregon, has created the Rosamond Hirschorn Departmental Endowed Chair of Music Fund with a $500,000 gift in honor of his late wife, Dee (Wagner) Piculell.

The couple met as students at Kansas State Teachers College, from where both Art and Dee earned bachelor’s degrees in 1959 — Art in Psychology and Dee in Music Education.

It was Miss Hirschorn’s tutelage that inspired Dee’s lifelong love of music. After the couple married in 1959, Dee Piculell taught school in Scott City, Wichita and Lawrence. Art earned a law degree from the University of Kansas.

“Recognizing the impact that Miss Hirschorn had on the lives of her vocal music students, including Dee, I hope the fund will enhance the level of excellence in music as exemplified by Miss Hirschorn’s career,” said Art Piculell.

Rosamond Hirschorn, a professor emerita of voice at Emporia State and a member of the Beach Hall of Distinction, lived in Emporia from 1948 to 1983. She conducted the women’s vocal ensemble Treble Clef, whose members have maintained close contact over the years. After retirement, she moved to New York City, where, at age 92, she still teaches private vocal lessons.

“I am so moved and honored by this gift from Art and Dee,” Miss Hirschorn said, noting that the endowment bearing her name is the most impressive of all the awards and recognition she has received in her long career.

“As a teacher, you rarely know if you’ve made a difference,” she continued, recalling Dee as a vivacious, helpful and compassionate individual.

“I would never have guessed that I made this significant an impact on a former student, but in Dee’s case, I’m delighted to know that I did!”

“Emporia State’s vocal music program will reap the benefits of this gift forever, by helping us to attract and retain talented faculty,” said Dr. Allan Comstock, associate professor of music and music department chair.

The Piculells developed residential communities and commercial investments in Oregon, Washington, and Arizona. “Life has been good to Dee and I, and we want to return the favor,” Art said in a 2009 interview commemorating the 25th anniversary of the School of Business.

The Hirschorn Fund is the second large gift the couple has made to Emporia State. Ten years ago, the Piculells created the Dr. Herman B. Baehr Endowed Chair in Finance in the business school.

“The Emporia State Foundation is honored to remember Mrs. Piculell through this new endowment which recognizes one of her most adored professors,” said Jennifer Denton, Foundation vice president for stewardship and administration.

Now & Forever: The Campaign for Emporia State University is a grassroots effort to build spirit, camaraderie and a sense of pride of membership in the university. With a working goal of $45.3 million, the campaign has already surpassed the halfway mark in the year following its announcement. For more information on the Now & Forever campaign, including the opportunity for estate planning services, please contact the Emporia State Foundation at (620) 341-5440 or visit nowandforever.org.

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