Ardis Higgins committed her life to music and education, and a bequest from her estate will continue her legacy at Westmont. She died in January 2010 and left $50,000 to establish the Ardis O. Higgins Endowed Music Scholarship for qualified students majoring in music or education. Another $50,000 will support the Bright Hope for Tomorrow capital campaign, which provides new facilities on campus, including the renovation of the old Westmont Art Center into a home for the music department.
An accomplished organist, Ardis chaired the music department at Santa Barbara City College and taught music education at Westmont until deteriorating eyesight forced her to retire early. Determined to pursue her passion, Ardis became an international music education consultant, traveling throughout the world with the International Society for Music Education and the Comparative Education Society. The author of more than 60 magazine, newspaper and journal articles and music reviews, she published “Windows on Women” in 1975 to highlight the accomplishments of women. Ardis also wrote the manuals and study questions for “Music in Motion,” an innovative educational series that illustrated classical music with creative film footage.
A longtime member of the Santa Barbara Symphony board and a past president of nine community organizations, Ardis received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Santa Barbara News-Press in 1998 and the Westmont Medal in 2005. Her tireless service to the symphony and the community enriched the arts in Santa Barbara. Her devotion to music education inspired the legacy she left to Westmont through her estate. ‘Westmont has stayed on a firm footing all these years,” she said. “It’s a delight to be part of the college community.”
A graduate of Northwestern University (where she also earned a master’s degree in music), Ardis did graduate work at the University of Southern California. Her volunteer activities in the Santa Barbara community were numerous. “People have started so many wonderful organizations,” she says. “I want to help keep them going.” Her legacy helps keep the music program at Westmont strong and vital.