Professor's Legacy: An Endowed Scholarship in Piano

Murray Present

Professor Emeritus Murray Present died in December 2012, leaving more than $400,000 to the University to establish an endowed scholarship to support students studying piano at the John J. Cali School of Music. Hired as Montclair State’s first full-time piano teacher in 1948, Present was the longest-tenured faculty member in University history when he retired in 1992.

“During his 44 years as a teacher at Montclair State, Murray Present touched the lives of hundreds of students,” says Vice President for University Advancement John T. Shannon. “Through the Murray Present Memorial Scholarship in Piano, he will continue to make a positive difference to future generations of piano students.”

Born in 1921 in Detroit, Michigan, Present graduated from Michigan State University before studying at the Juilliard School of Music, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and the French Conservatoire Americain at Fontainebleau with some of the 20th-century’s best-known piano teachers. He remained active until his death at age 91, giving private piano lessons and regularly meeting former students who call themselves “The Murray Present Fan Club.”

“He gave his best to every student,” says Phyllis Haefner ’66, a fan club leader. Dennis Boyle ’70 will always be grateful to Present, recalling that, “He was one of the best teachers --- in anything --- I ever had.”

With his generous bequest, the late professor has once again given his best to the University’s student pianists.