The University of North Carolina Charlotte recently held a ground breaking for the new marching band building, the Johnson Band Center. The facility, designed by Watson Tate Savory, will create a home for the new UNCC marching band. The article below, appeared in the Charlotte Business Journal.
UNC Charlotte received a $2 million donation on Thursday to support its future marching band.
The gift from alumni Vickie and Gene Johnson will help pay for a 6,700-square-foot facility to house the band’s musical instruments, uniforms and several offices.
The band — still to be given a name — will take the field for the first time in fall 2015. A naming campaign is ongoing, with more than 300 suggestions received.
UNC Charlotte announced in October 2013 that it would field a marching band. In the meantime, the roughly 20-member 49er Drumline has performed at home football games.
“We have seen, first-hand, the impact that the drumline has had on both students and alumni, and we are very excited to help expand this tradition,” Gene Johnson says. “It is our hope the marching band will be a source of pride and excitement for all supporters of the 49ers.”
The donation also will be used to establish the Vickie and Gene Johnson Marching Band Scholarship fund.
The goal is to build a $4.5 million endowment to provide funding for scholarships to active members of the UNC Charlotte marching band.
“The future well-being of our region is largely dependent on education, and anything we can do to enhance the work of UNC Charlotte is an investment in our future,” Gene Johnson says.
He is the first alumnus to chair the university’s board of trustees. Johnson also has served as president of the university’s alumni board, and was the first alumnus awarded an honorary degree from UNCC.
Vickie Johnson holds two degrees from UNC Charlotte and has served on the alumni board.
UNC Charlotte anticipates startup costs of $400,000 for the marching band to pay for uniforms, instruments and other equipment.
Jeffrey Miller has been hired to serve as the inaugural director of athletic bands. He formerly worked at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was the assistant director of the Golden Buffalo Marching Band.
Initially, the band will include 150 students and could grow to as many as 350 students. Only 20 percent of the students in the band will be music majors, giving the organization a cross-section of students from across the university.
The Vickie and Gene Johnson Marching Band Center will be located between Robinson and Storrs Hall for the Performing Arts. That’s within walking distance to where the marching band will practice.
Architectural firm Watson, Tate, Savory designed that facility, which was unveiled Thursday.
During an event announcing the donation, UNCC’s drumline performed a new cadence dedicated to the Johnsons, titled “Mining for Gold.” It was written by UNC Charlotte alum Nick Nichols, who is coordinator of marching percussion.
Jennifer Thomas covers retail, health care and education for the Charlotte Business Journal.