Published: Nov. 25, 2014


The late Eugene D. Eaton Jr. has endowed a chair in Baroque music at the College of Music.

Endowment is part of $6 million overall gift from the late Eugene D. Eaton Jr.

Although he divided his time between Arizona and Alaska, the late Eugene D. Eaton Jr. never lost his connection to the University of Colorado Boulder, where he earned three degrees in economics from 1961 to 1971. 

Although Eaton, who died in 2013, did not study music, he attended many concerts as a student and after graduation developed a lifelong interest in Renaissance baroque music. In later years Dean Daniel Sher shared recordings by Elizabeth Farr, professor of early music, and the Takács String Quartet, and Eaton even began to “attend” live-music performances at the College of Music from more than 3,000 miles away, thanks to video-streaming technology. 

“Gene … valued CU as much for the opportunity to hear great music live as he did for the excellent training he received through his studies in economics,” Sher says. 

To show his appreciation for his alma mater, Eaton bequeathed more than $6 million to the university to endow two faculty chairs—one in economics and one in Baroque music at the College of Music—and establish a travel sabbatical program for undergraduates. 

“This cross-disciplinary gift from an alumnus who remembered us in his will is leaving a legacy for generations of students,” Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano says. “Bequests like this shape the future of CU-Boulder, and we are grateful.” 

Eaton’s gift is the largest received by CU-Boulder since 2007. The $2.3 million endowment for the chair in Baroque music is the fifth gift of more than $1 million to the College of Music in the last 18 months. Last month, the school received gifts to establish the Eklund Family Opera Program and the Ritter Family Classical Guitar Program; last December the school unveiled a $2 million scholarship endowment for elite performing student-musicians; and in early 2013 an endowment for the Thompson Jazz Studies Program was established. 

“The CU-Boulder College of Music deeply appreciates Eugene Eaton’s significant bequest, which will enable us to expand our offerings in Baroque music through the creation of a new faculty position in this area,” says Robert Shay, dean of the College of Music. “This gift is a real testament to the impact of music, which in this case crossed disciplinary lines and clearly touched the life of a former CU student in a lasting and meaningful way.” 

“When I visited him in his home, it was scattered with CDs and books on composers,” says Todd Gleeson, professor of integrative psychology and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “(Music) was really a passion for him.” 

Eaton earned three degrees in economics at CU-Boulder, a BA 1965, and MA 1967 and a PhD in 1971. He was an adjunct professor in economics at the University of Alaska Anchorage for many years and served as an economic consultant to companies and municipalities involved with the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System in the 1970s.