By: Erin Schlosser – Copy Editor
In 1969, William Paterson University may have been unrecognizable to today’s Pioneers. It was Paterson State College, a small college boasting a handful of degree-generating programs. There was no University Hall, Science Hall or University Commons. The campus itself was rapidly growing and expanding; the school was just short of celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its relocation from Paterson to Wayne.
But for aspiring music professor Nan Guptill Crain, campus must have already felt like home.
“I came in for an interview and signed a contract that day,” she said. “And I am so happy I did.”
Fast forward to 2017 and Guptill Crain is preparing to retire after 48 years of teaching Pioneers. When she began her career, the music department had two degrees, in music education and music studies, and about 200 students. Over time, it has grown to include six B.M. programs, two B.A. programs, two minors and three graduate programs.
“It’s been a great life here,” Guptill Crain said. “I certainly didn’t plan to stay 48 years; I planned to stay for five!”
Originally from Wisconsin, Guptill Crain had no ties to New Jersey when she came for her interview.
“I didn’t know anybody here. But I was excited to be so close to New York City,” she said. “As a musician, that’s where you want to be.”
Her love for music began at a young age; her mother had a piano in the family home and, though she wasn’t a performer, played often. Guptill Crain caught musical fever and began taking piano lessons at 8 years old. She says she always enjoyed music and theatre, but high school is where she really “got hooked” on music. She took music classes at the University of Wisconsin, which would eventually become her alma mater, during her sophomore and junior years.
“At 16, it was my dream to sing on Broadway, as it is anyone’s,” Guptill Crain said.
She began her teaching career while attending the University of Wisconsin. Guptill Crain worked first as a teaching assistant for a music theory professor, then teaching for the voice department.
During her time at WPU, Guptill Crain has taught a smorgasbord of music classes and worked as choir director. She specializes in voice, giving lessons and teaching classes on French, Italian, English and German diction.
With her time as a professor coming to a close, Guptill Crain is looking ahead to retirement.
“I will miss teaching terribly,” she said.
Still, she has big plans to keep her busy. Guptill Crain plans to visit friends across the nation, as well as in Europe; Italy and France are just two of her destinations. She also has a friend at home whom she hopes to spend some of her newfound spare time with.
“I’m going to play with my kitty,” she said, smiling. “And I do plan to sleep. My first goal is to get caught up on sleep.”
Apart from the educational legacy she will leave after her years of service to WPU, Guptill Crain is also establishing a scholarship, The Nan Guptill Crain Scholarship Fund, to benefit studying music majors. A committee of faculty from the music department will award the scholarship.
“I feel very passionately about this. It’s something very near and dear to my heart,” she said of the scholarship. “I am going to match every donation made.”
She hopes it will help continuing and transfer students, who often find themselves missing out on financial assistance that first-year students receive.
“I hope it will help those people who have already proven themselves to be worthy students,” she said.
Guptill Crain’s retirement will be celebrated at an event on May 24 from 4 p.m. -7 p.m. in the University Commons Ballroom. The Nan Guptill Crain Scholarship Fund will be launched at this event. Donations to the scholarship fund are being accepted until July 1.