The UW Organ Program Needs Our Support

A message from Chapter Dean Sr. Jo Baim and
Dr. Carole Terry, Professor Emerita of Organ
at the University of Washington

The University of Washington’s Organ Program is in
Danger of Closing

The Pacific Northwest is in danger of losing one of its indispensable cultural assets: The University of Washington School of Music’s Organ Department.

Recently, the University has been favoring “STEM” programs, and, in the wake of the retirement of Carole Terry (UW Professor of Organ), the decision was made to no longer fund the organ program. We believe this decision ignores the important and significant artistic, cultural, and outreach value of the organ program, and that this decision should not go unchallenged.

The UW’s organ program enjoys an international reputation and has attracted students from three continents. Its graduates fill posts at Stanford University, Korea National University, and
Rikkyo University, Tokyo, to name only a few. Closer to home, the Director of Music at St. James Cathedral, Seattle, the resident organist of the Seattle Symphony, and over 30 church positions are held by program alumni. The program is one of only two West Coast organ programs that offered advanced degrees in organ performance and scholarship.

Pledge Form


Support the UW organ program. Pledges will be matched by the Seattle AGO!


Since her appointment to the School of Music’s organ post in 1979, Carole Terry has performed, taught, lectured and adjudicated in Europe, Great Britain, and the Far East as well as in many of the United States. She consulted in the design of Benaroya Hall’s Watjen Concert Organ, was the first Seattle Symphony organist, and made the first recording of solo works on the instrument. She raised the private funds necessary to build the University’s own
Littlefield Organ, in Kane Hall, and the Hollingsworth-Bagdi practice organ at the School of Music.

Over the past five decades, the Pacific Northwest has become a major center for arts related to the organ. Several renowned organ builders live and work here. Our region is home to a number of spectacular instruments, which draw performers from all over the world—instruments which are also available to the University’s organ students for practice and performance.

The organ program at the University of Washington is at the core of the Northwest’s outstanding resources of professionally trained musicians—organists who serve over 100 community choirs and choruses, numerous symphony and chamber orchestras, in addition to churches and synagogues. If there is no organ position at the School of Music, there will be no organ students. Not only will the reputation of UW Music be diminished, but the local well-spring of future generations of talented, dedicated organists who remain in the Northwest and
build their careers here will dry up. This will have a community-wide negative impact on the arts in our area.

We believe this requires a united response from our Chapter membership. 


In order to secure funding for an organ position, money must be raised and given to the School of Music as restricted gifts for an organ position. The cost of an endowment for an Artist-in-Residence position is $2.5 million. For a full faculty position, the cost is $4 million. The University Development office will not accept gifts of under $250,000.

Recently the Board of our local AGO Chapter met with Dr. Terry to discuss what might be done on our end. Our support for the UW’s organ program is absolute and enthusiastic; there is no question that we must do all we can to ensure its survival.

We are asking you—our Chapter membership—to join us in leading the way in a fund-raising effort to save the organ program at the UW School of Music.

Dr. Terry has identified a number of potential major donors in the area, and an appeal will also be made to program alumni around the country. But we, the local chapter, need to show our support quickly and decisively.

The Board has been looking for a major project in which to invest some of our surplus funds, and by unanimous vote, we feel that we could make no better choice than to invest in the outstanding and important cultural and educational resource of the organ program at UW.

Thus, the Board has approved Chapter matching funds of up to $125,000, to match gifts from members and supporters and reach at least the $250,000 threshold of the University’s Development Office.

Below you will find more financial details, and a pledge form at the top of the page. We don’t ask for money at the moment – just a pledge of what you would like to contribute. We plan to collect all money toward the end of December, 2020, in order to make our combined donation in timely fashion by January 1, 2021.

Thank you for considering a gift to this important cause. Your gift will be doubled and have a lasting impact on not only our own specialty of organ playing, but on the arts in the Puget Sound region in general.

Thank you,


Sr. Jo Baim, PhD, A/OblOSB

Dean, AGO Seattle

Dr. Carole Terry
Professor of Organ
University of Washington


“When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping”
– W.P. Gerberding, former president of UW

     “The recent decisions to defund the instruction of organ and harpsichord at the University of Washington School of Music should be troubling to all who have an active interest in the cause of fine music as part of the liturgy of the Church.
     For many decades, churches through Western Washington been well-served by musicians who have received their organ and choral training at the University of Washington School of Music. The Archdiocese of Seattle has been especially blessed by the service of countless organists and choir directors in its parishes and in particular, St. James Cathedral. These superb musicians have brought what they have learned from the UW and enriched the liturgical life of their parishes and the parishioners they serve. Their time at the UW has been a particularly important part of their formation as liturgical musicians; the disruption of this instruction casts a dark shadow upon the future vitality of music in the church.

     Efforts are underway to establish a foundation of support to ensure that this vital instruction is not discontinued. I invite all who are in a position to do so, to support these efforts generously with your prayers and financial resources.”
–The Very Rev. Michael G. Ryan, Pastor, St. James Cathedral (Roman Catholic)

     “The central role of the organ as an instrument used to gather the community at Saint Mark's Cathedral cannot be overstated. It is the means by which we come to understand our place in a rich tradition centuries old, and the resonant beauty of organ music speaks to our souls in ways that lend meaning and connection.

     We celebrate the long partnership we have with the UW Music Department's Organ Instruction program, and we rely on this auspicious program to raise up future generations of organists who will ensure the legacy of this special instrument of music will be preserved.”
–The Very Rev. Steven L. Thomason, Dean and Rector, St. Mark’s Cathedral (Episcopal)

     “The UW’s organ program has ramifications throughout the Northwest musical community because of the ubiquity of the concert organ, which serves so many communities. It is vital, of course, to religious observance in the multitude of cathedrals and churches in this region. But the organ is not merely a religious instrument: it is a concert instrument, too, and a significantly important one that the Seattle Symphony’s Benaroya Hall supporters knew they could not build the new hall without a first-rate organ (the Watjen Concert Organ).
     The UW School of Music has already lost so many significant faculty positions. The more positions are lost, the fewer music students will come, resulting in still fewer faculty members … a vicious circle on which the School of Music has already embarked. There is still time to reverse this downward slide, but it must happen on a case-by-case basis. Restoring the Organ Faculty position is a good place to start.”
–Melinda Bargreen, Music Critic and Composer

Financial Information

Recent unprecedented gains in the stock market have resulted in our Chapter having more money in our investments than a non-profit can justifiably retain. In the past few months, the Board has been discussing the best way to draw down what is really a surplus of funds.

We feel that doing our part to help the situation at the UW is the best use of this abundance.

As stated above, the goal is to create a position funded by restricted, designated money for a faculty organist at the University of Washington School of Music.

$2.5 million would fund an Artist in Residence position
$4 million would create the endowment for a full faculty position

The Board has voted to use Chapter funds to match donations up to $125,000, for a total amount of at least $250,000.

Right now, we ask only that you make a pledge. If our campaign is successful, we will collect money and make one combined donation from the Chapter by April 1, 2020. $250,000 is the smallest amount the UW Development Office will accept, so if we are not successful, we will not collect any donations. If the overall campaign is not successful, UW will return pledges.

Please note that if you itemize your tax deductions and meet all necessary criteria, your donation to this campaign will be tax deductible.

We hope that you will consider making a donation to this worthy cause, knowing that the impact of your gift will be doubled by Chapter funds.

Please use the from above to make your pledge. Your pledge will be tracked by only one person at this point and will always remain confidential.

Thank you for joining us in securing professional organ instruction at the University of Washington
for years to come!