Ramey will teach several weeks each semester for at least the next five years, according to Rodney Miller, dean of the WSU College of Fine Arts. This academic year, he will be on campus from Sept. 24-Oct. 5, Jan. 28-Feb. 9 and March 4-16.
About 25-30 WSU graduate and undergraduate students will have one-on-one time with Ramey, and close to 100 students will benefit from his expertise in group settings per semester.
Ramey's responsibilities will include private coaching sessions, graduate seminars, voice studio master classes and directing one concert in the spring, and he may attend opera rehearsals to help students with role preparation.
"This is going to be an enhancement of the student experience at WSU incomparable to any other because very rarely do students have the opportunity to work with someone at the top who was literally in their shoes at one time," said Miller. "Sam's international reputation at the highest levels of opera adds prestige to our vocal program."
Funded by six donors
To date, six donors have stepped forward to help establish the fund: Mickey Armstrong, Bill and Dorothy Cohen, George and Brenda Farha, Anita Jones, Dennis and Ann Ross, and WSU Music Associates, a pooled donor fund that provides educational and cultural opportunities for students in the WSU School of Music. The donors have contributed enough to cover the first few years, but more money will be needed to fund the proposed five-year plan.
"When a world-renowned opera singer contacts his alma mater and expresses that he wishes to be engaged with our students, we want to find a way to bring him here," said Elizabeth King, president and CEO of the WSU Foundation. "Equal to Sam reaching out to WSU is having donors who understand what a coup it is for our students, who will gain invaluable knowledge from studying under such a master teacher."
Ramey also is a donor to WSU, establishing the Samuel Ramey Opera Fellowship in 1994. He is a life member of the WSU Alumni Association and the WSU Foundation President's Club. Ramey also is an Alumni Achievement Award recipient.
"What exciting news for all the current and future voice students who will entrust the School of Music at Wichita State University to provide them with world-class training," said Joyce DiDonato, who graduated from WSU in 1992 and is considered by many as the pre-eminent lyric mezzo-soprano in the world today.
Ramey, who is 70 years old and the most recorded opera singer in history, has performed on the world's greatest stages – La Scala in Milan, Covent Gardens in Longon, Palais Garnier in Paris and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. However, he started on the flat plains of western Kansas, where he grew up in Colby singing bass in the Methodist Church choir.
"What an honor for Wichita State University to have Sam Ramey become an artist in residence," said Alan Held, renowned opera bass and Shocker alumnus of 1983. "He will now bring his great experience back to his alma mater and will certainly help lead the future generation of singers to even higher heights."