OGDEN — Businessman and philanthropist Sid W. Foulger knew he wanted to give something back to the school where he got his start.
But Foulger, a Weber College alumnus and Washington, D.C., resident, couldn’t decide exactly how to help Weber State, but then his assistant reminded him of his personal passion: music.
On Tuesday, Weber State University announced the formation of the Sid & Mary Foulger School of Music, for which Foulger has pledged an endowment of $5 million over five years.
The School of Music will use interest from the endowment to improve the university’s music program.
“We’re very happy and excited,” said Madonne Miner, dean of WSU’s Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities.
“I did send an email to music faculty members, asking them to start thinking about what they would do if they had $40,000 a year. What would be exciting ways to improve our program? We want our decisions to be something people feel good about.”
Miner said if Foulger were to donate $1 million this year, the interest would be about $40,000.
“That’s a remarkable amount of money for us to work with,” she said.
When the full $5 million is donated, assuming the current interest rate, that would give the School of Music $200,000 annually.
The money will enhance the university’s ability to recruit a broader range of career-oriented student musicians, support more scholarships, attract faculty and visiting performers of the highest caliber, and purchase state-of-the-art instruments, equipment and technology.
“Having a school of music symbolically and literally affirms the importance of music education at Weber State,” Miner said. “It proclaims a level of achievement and support.”
Foulger played football at Weber College. His late wife, Mary Flint Foulger, spent her childhood in nearby Kaysville. Both attended the University of Utah, where Sid Foulger earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
The couple married in Washington, D.C., while Foulger was stationed in Maryland as a Navy lieutenant during World War II.
Foulger was hired by Marriott Corporation to start the hospitality company’s architecture and construction division. Foulger established Foulger & Co. in 1963. Now known as Foulger-Pratt, the privately held business has handled projects ranging from the construction of Crossroads Mall in Salt Lake City to the building of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ landmark Washington, D.C., temple and visitors’ center in Kensington, Md.
After learning of Foulger’s interest in music and his goal of helping young people, Weber State sent a musical delegation to Washington for a special concert at the Washington Temple’s visitors’ center. The concert included music played by WSU piano student Fan-Ya Lin.
“Fan-Ya did an incredible job of playing, but afterward, Sid said he really wanted the Chopin ballad,” Miner said.
“She hadn’t prepared it, but she played it for him and his family, and he really enjoyed it. He really enjoys romantic and impressionist music. He’s someone who’s got a big heart, you can tell.”
Miner believes the Sid & Mary Foulger School of Music will help Weber State become the leading music school in the Intermountain area.
“It’s one of our aspirations to be a leader in the arts and humanities in the Rocky Mountain West,” she said.
“These days, many students feel they have to go to the East Coast or the West Coast if they are seriously involved in music study. We want to say, ‘No, you don’t. You can come to the Rocky Mountains, to the Wasatch Front.’ ”