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Foundation scholarship created for music majors

When Susan Mills began taking piano lessons in the second grade, her father would play the role of chauffeur, waiting in the car while she honed her craft. It was a weekly ritual that would continue until Susan was old enough to drive herself, but her father didn’t mind. Both he and Susan’s mother were music lovers as well. Her father played trombone in a band, while her mother had only to hear a tune once before picking it out on the piano herself.

“Both of them had perfect pitch, I think,” said Susan, laughing.

In 2014, Susan moved from Washington D.C. to Shepherdstown following her retirement from a 46-year career as an award-winning producer with CBS News and The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour (PBS).

“I was drawn to a college town because I knew there would be things to do,” she said. “And there are so many opportunities to hear good, live music at Shepherd; almost weekly student recitals, jazz combos, guest artists and the lovely Salon series sponsored by the Jefferson Security Bank.”

While Susan continued to play piano through early adulthood, even serving as accompanist for her high school’s senior choir, her interest in music had always included singing as well. Upon moving to Shepherdstown, she became intrigued by the Masterworks Chorale, the Eastern Panhandle’s premiere vocal ensemble comprised of Shepherd University vocal students and members from the surrounding community. She auditioned and joined the ensemble in 2015.

“As a member of the choir, I’m very impressed with the Shepherd students and how phenomenally hard they work. In addition to their studies, they also work full-time jobs to make ends meet,” said Susan, adding, “I never had to do that.”

Susan’s humble observations have led her to establish the Susan L. Mills Music Scholarship in Honor of Camille and James Mills, acknowledging both her parents’ support of her own musical interests, as well as her admiration for Shepherd music students and faculty. Designated in support of music majors, the deferred gift will be endowed through a bequest. As a result, Susan joins the Joseph P. McMurran Society, a special group of donors who have chosen to share their lifelong financial achievements with Shepherd University through estate and other planned gifts.