By: Associate Professor of Music in Voice Judith Raiford
Sigma Gamma, The University of Tulsa’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI) Music Fraternity for Women, awarded Applied Professor of Music Vernon Howard the title National Arts Associate and initiated him as a Distinguished Member into the chapter on April 11. Howard’s invitation for membership is in recognition of his incredible musical contributions nationally, regionally and, especially, in Tulsa. He is the second person ever to be initiated into Sigma Gamma under this title. The first National Arts Associate to be initiated by Sigma Gamma was Edward C. Purrington, director of Tulsa Opera, in 1982. After Purrington’s passing, Sigma Gamma held an SAI memorial service to honor him.
In addition to preparing this extremely prestigious ceremony honoring Howard, Sigma Gamma has remained active with philanthropy and membership projects in spite of extreme COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. On March 23, they held their first ever Sigma Gamma Art Sale as a fundraiser for their chosen philanthropy for 2020-21, the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. This organization fundraises for local musicians who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Each of the Sigma Gamma members created handmade crafts to be sold in TU’s Student Union. Thanks to the incredible contributions by the members, they raised over $300 for this cause.
Although COVID-19 restrictions forced the chapter to face new challenges, members believe they have overcome the unexpected obstacles and truly flourished this past academic year. They hope to be able to continue with similar projects and ceremonies in the fall semester.