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Lamont Whittemore Endowment to Shine Light on Native American Music, Culture

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Susan Dugan


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Dan and Beth Whittemore

Dan and Beth Whittemore

When DU Alumnus Dan Whittemore (BA ’63) (JD ’72) wrote a paper in junior high about the ancient Pueblo peoples in Mesa Verde, he had no idea he would grow up to promote social justice and educational opportunity for Native Americans. 

Moving to Arizona and visiting tribes there with his wife in the 1980s reignited Dan’s early fascination with Indigenous culture and sparked a kindred passion for supporting Native American interests in both Dan and Beth. 

Beth served on the board of the Phoenix Indian Center in the 1990s where she helped urban Indians raised on reservations adapt to urban life and also worked for Arizona’s Medicaid system. Both experiences heightened her awareness of the needs of Native Americans and the necessity of preserving their culture and traditions. 

When Dan graduated from the Iliff School of Theology years later with a master’s degree in theological studies, he wanted his ministry to address the poorest of the poor, which he identified as Native Americans.

“We’d been spinning our wheels working on Native American issues for 25 years and felt that we really weren’t making any significant progress,” he explained. 

The realization prompted the couple to refocus their giving toward creating an endowed scholarship to assist Native American students at the Sturm College of Lawand later, in the Daniels College of Business 

Most recently in 2022, the Whittemores saw an opportunity to receive matching funds from Lamont School of Music’s Michael McGoldrick Matching Fund to create the Whittemore Endowed Fund for Native American Music, devoted to developing and supporting workshops, performances and classes featuring Native American music at Lamont. 

“There are music programs for other underserved groups but hardly any for Native Americans,” Dan said. We wanted to make this gift to raise awareness of Native American music for the faculty, students and community. 

The Michael McGoldrick Matching Fund launched in 2022 has raised more than four million to benefit Lamont. It carries forward the legacy of long-time Lamont School of Music friend and benefactor Michael McGoldrick, who served as president of the Lamont Society.

McGoldrick’s generosity enabled the Whittemores to double their gift and its impact.  

The couple both derive personal joy and satisfaction from supporting DU, Dan said, pointing out that the new endowment will grow in perpetuity.  

“The principal that we’ve put up now with the matching funds remains intact and only the earnings can be used for the programs, which means the fund and earnings will remain forever.” 

The new endowment also aligns with DU’s commitment to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.  

“Given that we are all living on native land, a focus on Native American arts, artists, scholars and organizations is tremendously important,” said Sarah Morelli, associate professor and chair, Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology, Lamont School of Music.

The Whittemores' gift will provide crucial, ongoing support for the development of educational programming focused on Native American music, musicians, artists and culture bearers. Michael McGoldrick was very supportive of the Ethnomusicology program at DU and would have been thrilled to learn of the establishment of this new fund. 

Plans are underway to bring a visiting Native American musician to Lamont this fall.   

“We hope this endowment shines a light on Native American culture,” Dan says. “It’s very appropriate for the university and certainly will raise awareness about Indigenous music. It’s really quite beautiful for us to learn about the music and arts of these people because it hasn’t been at all part of the mainstream education system.” 

If you would like to support the Whittemore Endowed Fund for Native American Music, please indicate this gift designation in the comments section when you give online.