October 28, 2015, BY Christina Masciere Wallace

Professor Emeritus William Payn

A new endowed scholarship honors Professor Emeritus William Payn, music, who retired from Bucknell in spring 2014 after 32 years of teaching and leading the University's marquee choral and handbell groups.

Emeritus Trustee Robert C. Rooke and his wife, Natalie Rooke, grandparents of alumni from the classes of 2006, 2007 and 2012, established the William A. Payn Music Scholarship. The award strengthens Bucknell's music program by enhancing the University's ability to recruit and enroll students who have demonstrated excellence in music.  

"The scholarship honors Bill's decades of exceptional teaching and his leadership of countless wonderful performances that have enriched the campus and the region for decades," said Professor William Kenny, chair of the music department.  

The longtime director of choral studies, Payn is an accomplished composer, conductor and performer. He received several of the University's top faculty awards, including the Cook Award (1994), given to a faculty member to promote creative travel; the Philip L. and Dessa H. Harriman Award (1987), for contributions to the intellectual life of the University; and the Class of 1956 Lectureship (2001), which honors inspirational teaching. Payn's legacy of University service includes direction of the Rooke Chapel Choir, the Rooke Chapel Ringers and the Bucknell University Concert Chorale.  

"Under Bill's leadership, each of these groups received wide recognition from his students, peers and audiences," said Kenny. "They've traveled the world and have been invited to perform in major venues with top-tier ensembles. Through multiple recordings, they have spread the Bucknell name near and far."  

As a choral director, Payn is known for his ability to strike a balance between his quest for musical excellence and respect for the humanity of his singers, Kenny added. He respected his students as individuals with their own talents, experience and perspective, and blended these elements to create consistently excellent performances that honored the music as well as the singers.  

In 1995, the National Board of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers conferred upon Payn the status of master conductor and master instructor of conducting and musicianship; he is one of only three to have received this honor in both categories. In 1996, his undergraduate alma mater presented him with the Westminster Choir College Distinguished Alumni Merit Award. He continues his work as a choral director, serving as music director of the Susquehanna Valley Chorale. 

Scholarship support is the top priority of Bucknell's half-a-billion dollar WE DO Campaign, which aims to raise $150 million in endowed scholarships and financial aid. Gifts to this area help ensure the University's ability to recruit and retain deserving, well-qualified students of all backgrounds in perpetuity.