Alumna donates $4 million to ensure musical excellence

By Daniel Johnson

Illinois Alumna Sheila Johnson made $4 million donation to the University Music department to create two new positions on the staff.

The donation will establish the Daniel J. Perrino Chair of Jazz Studies and the Susan Starrett Chair in Violin for the department.

“We need committed, talented teachers to pass on the gift of music to our students,” Johnson said in a press release. “And I am thrilled to be able to honor my mentors Daniel J. Perrino and Susan Starrett with these two chairs, passing on their legacy of inspiration to generations of music students to come.”

Johnson is a 1970 music education graduate from the University, CEO of Salamander Hospitality LLC, a founding partner of BET and has financial ties to multiple professional sports franchises.

“The two chairs that Sheila Johnson has so generously endowed for the School of Music will enable us to hire and retain the most talented and sought after faculty in out two signature programs: strings and jazz studies,” said Karl Kramer, director of the U of I School of Music, in a press release.

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