Archive | Philanthropy RSS feed for this section

From Connections: “Music and Memory”

1 Aug

Clockwise from top left: Associate Professor of Music Therapy Betsey King, music therapy graduate student Theresa Lemmerman ’09, ’12G, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Music Therapy Laurie Keough lead Lou, George, and Nola, three participants in Nazareth’s music therapy group for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Many people are familiar with using rhymes and songs to help remember information. But can melodies and harmonies help maintain—and even improve—the memory skills of aging individuals with dementia?

Sheila Konar certainly thinks so. “The benefits of music therapy on mental health are astounding. We’ve always been interested and involved in this field as well as in giving back to the community.”

To that end, Konar donated a major gift in 2011 on behalf of the Konar Family Foundation to the music therapy program at Nazareth College. “Nazareth has always been socially minded and involved in community service, so this grant was a given.”

Among other initiatives, the gift enabled the creation of a special music therapy group for persons with Alzheimer’s. Konar was personally interested in supporting this endeavor since her own husband was diagnosed with the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. At present, there is no cure and the disease worsens as it progresses. As research into medications and other treatment options continues, professors at Nazareth were interested in studying the effectiveness of individually tailored small group music therapy sessions for those living with Alzheimer’s. And it was the donation from the Konar Family Foundation that kick-started the program.

The music therapy group at Nazareth was led by Associate Professor of Music Therapy Betsey King, Ph.D., and Assistant Clinical Professor of Music Therapy Laurie Keough, M.S.Ed.—both of whom are board certified music therapists with extensive experience in the field.

“With the help of the Rochester chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, we recruited enough participants and caregivers for 12 sessions in the fall semester,” explains King. The sessions involved singing songs (occasionally combined with sign language), playing instruments, and building memory skills through repetition and engagement.

The research was compiled throughout the semester, and the preliminary results and analysis indicated significant improvement in areas of concern for persons with Alzheimer’s. “Improvement is especially meaningful for people who have a progressive debilitating disease,” explains Keough. “Intervention is often necessary simply to maintain skills in this context.”

Examples of improvements included increased social interaction among group members, active participation, and ability to participate in more complex musical interactions.

In response to the encouraging results, the music therapy group continued to meet during the spring 2012 semester. “Not only did we see changes in the participants on account of the direct stimulation of music therapy, but what’s most promising is the carryover reported from this 50-minute session to the world outside of this room,” says Keough. Indeed, the participants’ caregivers reported back on their loved ones’ positive affects, increased activity, and energy levels.

Most surprisingly, notes Keough, was not just the maintenance of existing skills, but the building and development of the participants’ memory skills. “At the beginning, we saw anxiety, confusion, and disorientation, but that gradually faded with the weekly sessions. The structure remains the same, but each session is different and builds on the skills from the previous week. It’s incredible to see so much improvement and growth in the participants.”

The group’s successes are especially poignant considering logistics nearly prevented the sessions from occurring. “Space is at a premium on this campus and in the beginning we couldn’t find a suitable place to hold the sessions,” says King. “If we want to continue giving our students real-world experience while also doing outreach, community support, and research, then we need proper clinic space.”

And so the question now from both the participants’ caregivers and the music therapists is the same: What’s next?

“As we increase the visibility of Nazareth’s music therapy program and educate the health care agencies and facilities in our community about music therapy,” says King, “we can provide new jobs for our graduates, varied clinical training for our students, and services for underrepresented and underserved populations. In a real and tangible way, this generous gift from the Konar Family Foundation will enable us to do just that.”

And Konar insists that her work with Nazareth and the music therapy program is not over. “We are determined to secure an appropriate clinic space so they can keep doing the amazing work they do every day for the community.”


Article written by Sofia Tokar, assistant editor in Nazareth’s marketing department. To read more from the this issue of Connections magazine, click here. Back issues of Connections are available at

Nazareth Receives $2M Gift to Name New Integrated Center for Math and Science

31 May

Nazareth College’s new Integrated Center for Math and Science will have the name Peckham Hall when it opens to students in August of this year, thanks to a $2 million gift from Larry and Nancy Peckham. Peckham Hall, which will house the Integrated Center for Math and Science, will play an instrumental role in leading the way for Nazareth students to receive the very best in math and science education, enabling the College to increase the number of students who pursue majors in science and math fields, as well as those who pursue careers as health and human services professionals and teachers of math and science.

“Nazareth College is enormously grateful to Larry and Nancy Peckham for this generous gift to name the Integrated Center for Math and Science,” said Nazareth President Daan Braveman. “They have looked into the future and see how this building will help Nazareth expand the number of students interested in pursuing careers in math, science, technology, health care, and teaching. They also understand that the facility will have far-reaching impact on the Rochester community as many of our students remain in the region as health care professionals, teachers, and professionals in STEM-related fields.”

To learn more about the features of the newly named Peckham Hall, view the official press release. For more information about Nazareth College, visit

Celebrating Nazareth’s New Green Benchmark

18 Apr

Northwest view of the Integrated Center for Math and Science, which will be the first LEED-certified building on campus.

With Earth Day upon us, we wanted to take the chance to tout Nazareth’s largest environmental sustainability project–our new Integrated Center for Math and Science. We broke ground on the project recently and there’s been a flurry of activity at the construction site since.

With the wonderful green design of the building, we expect the project to achieve at least a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)-certified green building rating of silver, which would make it the only building on campus to have LEED certification and the only building in Pittsford, N.Y., to have that, too. Currently a voluntary effort by property owners, LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. The number of points a building receives by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which oversees all LEED certifications, will determine its rating.

So, what does that mean, exactly? To achieve LEED certification status with a silver, gold, or platinum rating (and we’re hoping that by the end of the project it will be certified platinum), the site and building must meet the following six guidelines established by the USGBC:

  • Sustainable site development: This site has alternative transportation close to a bus line and bike racks; the building has an integrated engineering-sustainable design; it will have combined lab, administrative, classroom and a lecture hall.
  • Water efficiency: The building will have low-flow fixtures; electronic-sensor faucets; and water-efficient landscaping with native plants.
  • Energy and atmosphere: Rain water from the roof will be collected in an area behind the building to capture water before it enters the storm-water system.
  • Materials and resources selection: The building will be able to store and collect recyclables; we aim to divert between 75 and 95 percent of construction waste for the project; 20 percent of the materials we use will come from sites within 500 miles; we will use certified wood, with 50 percent of the wood coming from the Forest Stewardship Council; the roof of the building will be made of composite that will be good for 50 years, which is much higher than traditional slate; and there will be two 20′ x 20′ green roofs proposed for the building.
  • Indoor environmental quality: We will try to provide the best air quality during construction and thereafter; we will monitor the carbon monoxide levels in the air; and we will increase ventilation and use low-emitting materials, from paint to carpet, etc.
  • Green design innovations: The green roofs on the building will reduce the heat island effect and light pollution.

The four-story center will be the largest newly built academic building on our campus. In addition to its green design, the Integrated Center for Math and Science will provide several great academic benefits, like collaborative spaces and state-of-the art technologies. In the meantime, walk by the site of the building–near the Golisano Academic Center–and get excited about this new benchmark for Nazareth!

Breaking New Ground

15 Apr

On April 11, Nazareth College officially broke ground on construction of the new Integrated Center for Math and Science.

It’s official! Nazareth College has broken ground on the new Integrated Center for Math and Science, expected to be completed in fall 2012. Click here to read about and see photos of the groundbreaking ceremony and construction.