Persistent Cal State Dominguez Hills Makes All-Steinway School History

As seen in the Winter 2015 edition of the Steinway Chronicle.

One seemingly endless winter day with students away on break, a small army of movers and technicians converged on California State University, Dominguez Hills. More than 20 shining new pianos later, CSUDH became the first All-Steinway School among 23 campuses that comprise the largest four-year public university system in the United States.

What culminated in 24 frenetic hours began years earlier when former music department Chair Dr. Richard Kravchak met Tim Stephenson, Western Institutional Sales Manager of Steinway & Sons in West Hollywood. Current Chair Dr. Sally Etcheto heartily embraced the challenge once Dr. Kravchak made a career move to the east coast.

Dr. Willie Hagan receives the All-Steinway School plaque as Timothy Stephenson looks on.

Timothy Stephenson with Dr. Sally Etcheto.

"Tim made me feel special and listened to my concerns with empathy and understanding. With his marvelously creative ideas and support, we updated our plan and presented it to all the appropriate parties. What a miraculous day when I received an email confirming the purchase," she recalled.

A host of enthusiastic learners had a noticeable spring in their step when they returned for the new semester.

"The excitement level was unbelievable! Almost immediately, our students became aware of the TLC required of these instruments and proved to be self-policing regarding liquids, music stands and back packs. They were staying on campus and practicing longer. One of our seniors chose to use the Steinway logo on his recital program instead of his picture," Dr. Etcheto said. "I am proud to say that one classroom was completely refurbished this past summer and others are now on the list — all because Steinway is in the house."

To see such American excellence up close and personal was positively invigorating. It was a fabulous experience.

In May, Steinway Artist Elizabeth Roe performed at the inaugural dinner for President Willie Hagan, the first in a new series of recitals. "The All-Steinway designation is yet another mark of CSU Dominguez Hills’ commitment to excellence by providing our students with the very best instruments with which to pursue their dreams," Dr. Hagan said. "We hope the concert series will attract a whole new audience to our campus, benefitting not only our music program, but all aspects of fundraising," added Pam Hillman, Coordinator of Special Projects.

School officials toured the Steinway factory after attending the 2014 Keys to Finding Funds seminar in New York. "We were treated like royalty, yet made to feel like family," Dr. Etcheto said. "To see such American excellence up close and personal was positively invigorating. It was a fabulous experience — one I shall never forget."

With funding secured for piano maintenance over the next three years, CSUDH is poised for future growth. Tentative plans call for making additional physical improvements, attracting more international students and increasing degree offerings.

"Our association with Steinway has given us courage to forge ahead," said Dr. Etcheto. "We serve a diverse student population, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college. Thanks to Steinway we know we are serving them with excellence."

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