Baylor University Announces $6 Million Estate Gift for School of Music

February 23, 2023
Harold Dunn

Harold Dunn, M.S. '54, of Ballwin, Missouri.

Baylor graduate’s planned gift names the Dunn Center for Christian Music Studies

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WACO, Texas (Feb. 23, 2023) – Baylor University today announced a gift of approximately $6 million from the estate of Harold W. Dunn of Ballwin, Missouri, supporting the School of Music’s Center for Christian Music Studies. Dunn, an alumnus and retired elementary school music teacher, gave the entirety of his estate to the University, making the largest gift in the School of Music’s 100-year history.

In recognition of this transformational gift, the University announced the naming of the Dunn Center for Christian Music Studies. Dunn, M.S. ’54, passed away in December 2022.

“We are humbled by Harold Dunn’s transformational generosity,” said President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D. “We honor his life of incredible impact, and we celebrate his purposeful planning that inspired him to leave his estate to Baylor to support Christian music education for future generations. This gift leaves an incredible legacy that honors his decades of music teaching and his family’s commitment to Christian education. We are truly grateful for Harold’s generosity, and we are honored to share its impact with our Baylor Family.”

The roughly $6 million gift to the School of Music will support the Dunn Family Endowed Fund for the Center for Christian Music Studies supporting the newly named Dunn Center for Christian Music Studies. The Dunn Center naming celebrates the memory of Dunn, his parents and sister, all of whom shared a Christian faith that animated their lives and their philanthropy. The Dunn Center carries a tradition since its founding to provide leadership in all aspects of Christian music, striving to encourage church musicians to cultivate their God-given potential and endeavoring to provide resources for their continued personal development.

“Harold Dunn has left a transformational legacy, and we are grateful for the enduring support made possible through the Dunn Family Endowed Fund,” said Gary Mortenson, D.M.A., dean of the Baylor School of Music. “During a visit I made to St. Louis to meet Mr. Dunn along with Dr. Randall Bradley and members of the Men’s Choir, it was obvious to me that Harold delighted in connecting with our students, in hearing them perform and felt strongly about supporting the Church Music Program. He was a humble man who sought to make an impact in the ways we worship God through Christian music, and we are honored that he has entrusted us with this generous gift to fulfill that bequest through the Dunn Center for Christian Music Studies.”

Dunn was honored today during the meeting of the Center for Christian Music Studies Advisory Board for his support and to honor his memory. The celebration of life was organized by Randall Bradley, D.M.A., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Music and director of the Dunn Center for Christian Music Studies.

“We are grateful for Harold Dunn’s generous bequest, and for his encouragement during the many years of his life that he supported Christian Music studies here at Baylor,” Bradley said. “The Dunn Family Endowed Fund will truly provide permanent, sustaining support for the Dunn Center for Christian Music Studies, and we look forward to the new opportunities that will be possible because of this generous gift from his estate.”

Dunn had a no-frills approach, living what many would consider a simple life. He had retired as an elementary school music teacher after more than 30 years in the classroom, and he also was a published author, writing a series of books that shared the amusing statements he witnessed from a lifetime of teaching.

A single man who cared deeply for his mother and sister, Dunn had left Baylor after earning his graduate degree to return to them in Missouri after his father’s death. He would keep in close contact with them both until their own deaths years later.

Dunn’s decision to leave his estate to Baylor came from a desire to honor the memory of his family and the Christian faith they all shared, while making a difference in the lives of students – something he had done for so many of his elementary pupils as a teacher.

In Baylor’s Center for Christian Music Studies, Dunn found a place where music, education and ministry merge in a powerful way. The Center serves as an academic hub where transformational leadership in all aspects of Christian music develops on a daily basis.

For a quiet man, who led a quiet life, Harold Dunn’s legacy is now forever etched upon the foundations of the institution, echoing through future generations who will benefit and be inspired by his lasting impact at Baylor University.

Baylor publicly launched the Give Light campaign on Nov. 1, 2018. To date, the campaign has raised $1.29 billion. The Campaign has seen 88,685 alumni, parents and friends give to the University’s priorities, as well as establishing 791 endowed scholarships and 44 endowed faculty positions. For more information or to support Give Light: The Campaign for Baylor, visit


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


Celebrating more than 100 years of musical excellence, the Baylor University School of Music provides transformational experiences that prepare students for careers in music. Students thrive in a Christian environment characterized by a nurturing resident faculty, an unwavering pursuit of musical excellence, a global perspective, dedication to service and devotion to faith. They investigate the rich musical and cultural heritage of the past, develop superior musical skills and knowledge in the present, and explore and create new modes of musical expression for the future. While preparing for future leadership roles, students join with School of Music faculty in enhancing the quality of community life, enriching the larger culture and making Baylor a place in which heart, mind and soul coalesce. Baylor’s School of Music is a member of the National Association of Schools of Music and the Texas Association of Music Schools. Degree programs include bachelor’s and master’s degrees in performance, music education and academic majors, as well as doctoral degrees in church music. Degrees leading to the Bachelor of Music Education conform to certification requirements of the Texas Education Agency. Visit to learn more.