UNI School of Music

Cursive text that reads "School of Music" and links to the homepage

Alumni & Friends

UNI School of Music always loves to hear from alumni and friends. Have you been performing, educating, traveling, composing, conducting or otherwise involved in your community since graduating? Contact Us and let us know! Or fill out our online Alumni Response Form and keep us posted on your newest projects. And when you’re in the Cedar Falls area, there is always an opportunity for you to visit and show your school spirit by supporting an event or stopping by to say hello.

Recent Alumni News


'48 Rosie Irene (Maiden) Bolstad, BA, Bremerton, WA, is continuing work on her upcoming release “Remembering Bernie” in honor of her late husband, as well as two other recording projects. 



'50 Ted Herbst, BA, Germantown, WI, is enjoying retirement and summers in Rhinelander, WI, at their summer home on Lake Thompson. 


'56 Jerry McRoberts, BA, Charleston, IL, retired from Eastern Illinois University in 1998 where he served as professor of art history and earned a faculty excellence award.



'67 John Smith, BA, MA '73, Lake Dallas, TX, is directing his own big band called the Pecos River Brass Big Band. The band performs jazz standards, as well as new and innovative arrangements, including some by Smith himself. 



'71 Steven Ainsworth, BA, MA '75, Pensacola, FL, retired after 44 years of band directing and moved to Florida to be closer to children and grandchildren. Because teaching has been his occupation and hobby he will be teaching music education courses two days per week at Pensacola Christian College. 


'74 James Miller, BM, MA '77, Ames, IA, is retired and stays busy volunteering at an elementary school, working with Scouts, teaching Sunday school and giving guitar lessons. 


'74 Kathleen (Haley) Taylor, BA, Knoxville, IA, retired from Evans Middle School in Ottumwa and now substitute teaches in schools near Knoxville. She also enjoys helping with the St. Anthony choir, Knoxville Community Chorus and Pella City Band. 


'75 Al Jacobson, BA, Cedar Falls, IA, is completing his 30th year as senior lecturer in music at Wartburg College. He is the instructor of percussion and director of The Knightliters Jazz Band I.


'76 Denise (Drew) Reit, BA, Spencer, IA, retired from the Spencer Community Schools after 40 years of teaching middle school general music. 



'83 Randy Atkinson, BM, MM '89, Cedar Rapids, IA, retired in June 2016 after 33 years of teaching instrumental music in Iowa. He taught in Ottumwa, Linn‑Mar and Taft Middle School in Cedar Rapids. 


'87 Craig Miller, BA, Bernalillo, NM, is a worship pastor at Sagebrush Community Church in Albuquerque, NM. He became a full‑time worship pastor after switching from a career in business. He has greatly utilized his marketing management degree and minor in music from UNI.


'87 Steve Peters, BA, Minneapolis, MN, is the minister of music at Peace Lutheran Church in Plymouth, MN, serving as organist, director of celebration singers, and manager of staff and overall programs. In addition, he is a career/employment counselor at HIRED. 



'94 Aaron Hansen, BM, MM '04, Cedar Falls, IA, is teaching K‑6 general music at Cedar Heights Elementary School. This follows 16 years at Waverly‑Shell Rock. 



'00, Tamara Sanikidze, MM, Austin, TX, joined the faculty of the Butler School of Music in Austin, TX, in January 2015. Sanikidze is also an official pianist for Plácido Domingo's Operalisa, The World Opera Competition and has performed regular in the Marilyn Home Foundation's The Song Continues... and On the Wings of Song series.


'03 Lisa Schmitz, BA, West Des Moines, IA, was named marketing and PR manager for the Principal Charity Classic PGA Tour Champions event in Des Moines. She spent the previous seven years in the sports and entertainment division of Edelman Public Relations in Chicago. 


'05 Lacy (Sprung) Willenborg, BA, Des Moines, IA, married Drew in June 2015. They were able to honeymoon in Rome, Italy and received the Sposi Novelti blessing (marriage blessing) from the Pope. 


'06 Sarah (Duvel) Rueber, BM, MA '10, Cedar Falls, IA, was named worship director for Orchard Hill Church's two campuses in Grundy County. She also does script writing and administrative support for Around the Corner Productions.


'09 Jeff Fountain, BM, Cedar Rapids, IA, is a band teacher at College Community School.



'10 Michael Thursby, MM, Mankato, MN, is the director of athletic bands and percussion at Minnesota State University Mankato.


'11 Michael Conrad, BM, Greeley, CO, was selected as a recipient of ASCAP's 2016 Herb Alpert Young Composer Award. Mike also won first place in the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers Jazz Arranging Contest in December 2015, which was followed by a performance and recording of the arrangement by Kim Richmond's Jazz Orchestra in Los Angeles. Conrad is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Jazz Studies at the University of Northern Colorado. He continues to remain active as a composer and performer.


'13, Rebecca Buseman, BA, Saint Paul, MN, graduated from the graduate program at the University of Southern Florida in May 2015. She currently resides in St. Paul, MN, where she works at Wells Pianos helping the business owner to operate the business, facilitate piano deals, volunteer within the community, play pianos, teach piano lessons and more.


'13 Jordan Leckband, BM, Newton, IA, is the 6‑12 grade director of vocal music at Nodaway Valley in Greenfield. He teaches the High School Women's Chorus, High School Men's Chorus, 7/8 Choir, 6th Grade Choir, and the Advanced Music Studies class. I will be returning to Cedar Falls this summer to teach the Music Technology classes for Camp MusicMania. I am also a member of the Central Iowa Alumni Association for Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He married Meghan (Vosberg) Leckband in August 2015 with most of the groomsmen being UNI Music Alumni!


'13, Stephanie Opsal, BM, Albuquerque, NM, recently completed her Master of Music degree at University of New Mexico. While completing her studies, Stephanie served as Woodwind Tech/Clinician at La Cueva High School, leading clarinet sectionals and working with their marching band.  She also taught Beginning Band and Beginning Strings at St. Mary's School in downtown Albuquerque.


'14, Brett Copeland, BA, Tampa, FL, is pursuing the MM degree in Tuba Performance at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. Brett is the current President of the New-Music Consortium and Vice-President of the College of The Arts Council at USF.  In fall 2016, Brett plans to attend the Eastman School of Music to begin working towards the DMA in Tuba Performance and Literature while also serving as a teaching assistant for the Eastman Computer Music Center.


'14 Nick Wills, BM, Bloomington, IN, is a second year graduate student in horn performance at Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.



'05 Lacy (Sprung) Willenborg, BA, married Drew Willenborg in June 2015.


'13 Jordan Leckband, BM, married Meghan (Vosberg) Leckband on August 8, 2015.


'14 Nick Wills, BM, married Emily (Linder) Wills, BA '14, on July 26, 2014.



Do you have some notable news that you'd like to share with the UNI School of Music and your fellow alumni? Contact us to let us know!