Ensuring the Beat
Goes On

They’ve seen how WCU’s music program changes lives.
With their gift, they’re letting the rest of the country know, too.

Following the rhythm

For the Wells brothers, it all started with music education. The siblings both majored in the subject at West Chester University, with Dr. James R. Wells graduating in 1954, and his brother Richard G. Wells following suit four years afterward. 60 years later in 2018, they returned together to bestow that same school of music with their name — and the largest gift in the University’s history.

As WCU graduates, the brothers leveraged their experiences to spur successful careers. James returned to the University as the Director of Bands and a music professor, founding the WCU Marching Band and Band Front Conference in 1970. An early pioneer in the music festival arena, he helped revolutionize the use of corps style marching techniques.

Richard took his talents to the Kutztown Area and Owen J. Roberts school systems before joining Kutztown University as an associate professor in the department of music. There, he directed the marching, concert, and jazz bands, as well as the instrumental ensembles. In 1968, Richard established the university’s first jazz program.

While working at separate universities, the brothers often collaborated to further music education. In 1982, they established Festivals of Music, a groundbreaking conference that brings together school performing ensembles with leading conductors. To help facilitate the travel logistics, they founded World Travel Inc. — a company that evolved to specialize in corporate travel, becoming the fourth largest independent travel company in the country.

Even as their accomplishments grew, the brothers never lost sight of their drive to advance music education. As much joy as they derived from teaching and performing — Jim still directs a church choir, and Richard directs the Kutztown University alumni jazz band — they sought to give back for future generations to enjoy as well. “Whether it is performing, listening, or attending concerts,” Richard says, “music is still the driving passion in my life.”

James R. Wells ’54 and Richard G. Wells ’58

Donors of a record-breaking $3 million gift to the Wells School of Music

“We have one of the best music education schools in the country. Donations help the school continue to bring proficient musicians here — and to let the rest of the nation know about West Chester University.” – James Wells

Donate Now

“Donations allow music to continue — not only at the university, but in our schools, communities, and across society,”