Pipe organ turns out to be unique recruiting tool

September 10, 2009 | Leave a Comment


Buies Creek, N.C.-It wasn't the quality of academic programs or the pleasant rural atmosphere that drew former Sacred Music major Michael Morgan back to Campbell University. It was an organ, the Cornell-Zimmer electronic pipe organ that is the centerpiece of the gothic inspired Anna Gardner and Robert B. Butler Chapel.

Morgan, who withdrew from Campbell in 1995, said his decision to return and complete his degree also hinged on the realization of the importance of finishing what he started, but the pipe organ and the beautiful new chapel made it a lot easier.

In a letter to Dr. John Roberson, vice president for Marketing and Enrollment Management at Campbell, Morgan elaborated on his decision.

"I attended Campbell University from 1993-1995 and was a Church Music major with my major instrument being organ," he wrote. "Unfortunately, I left Campbell before completing my degree. Upon hearing of the new chapel and organ, I began to think about completing my degree. A chapel and instrument of this magnitude are sure to become the heart of the University."

The Cornell-Zimmer organ features 20 sets of pipes with a total of 1,198 individual pipes. The largest numberof pipes are located on the Great organ and establish the foundation of the instrument. The large 16 foot façade pipes at the front of the chapel are part of the great Pedal organ and additional pipes are located behind the right front façade. Additionally, there are 58 sets of digital sounds included in five divisions on the organ. These are Great, Swell, Choir, Solo and Pedal divisions.

"Each of the 1,198 pipes has been ‘voiced' to the amazing acoustical setting of Butler Chapel," said Dr. Daniel Hester, adjunct professor of organ and Morgan's instructor. "The organ features many colorful stops including two large solo reeds; a Tromba di fanfare and a Tuba. There are also a large number of string sounds and a Zimbelstern or small set of bells on the Choir organ."

The console on the instrument was designed to match the architecture of the chapel and has a total of 106 drawknobs that control the stops. The four manuals or keyboards of the instrument are composed of maple and rosewood keys.

"Butler Chapel and the organ are major additions to the University and community," Hester said. "The return of talented students like Mike Morgan is one of the benefits of an organ of this quality, and it will continue to attract students in the future. Campbell has already received several inquiries from prospective students concerning the instrument."

A resident of Pantego, N.C., 30 miles east of Washington, going back to school hasn't been easy for Morgan. The long commute, juggling classes with a full-time job and the responsibilities of a wife and two children under the age of 10 have taken their toll.

"I am determined to complete what I started," he said. "When you get older, you realize how important a degree is. I want to thank Campbell for having the vision to provide such a wonderful space on campus for worship and such a wonderful instrument to lead the people's song in the new Cornell Zimmer organ."

Morgan, who is the organist and music director at First Presbyterian Church of Washington, transferred to Campbell from the College of Albemarle in 1993. He serves as Human Resources and Safety manager for Guy Shavender Trucking, Inc. Married to the former Marcy Shavender, they are the parents of two children, Macy Wade, 9, and Michael, 4. If all goes as expected, Morgan expects to receive a bachelor's degree in Sacred Music from Campbell in 2011.

Photo copy: Sacred Music major Michael Morgan practices at the new Cornell-Zimmer pipe organ in Campbell's Butler Chapel.