Kansas University’s loss of band director Scott Weiss certainly is the University of South Carolina’s gain.
After just three years as KU’s director of bands, Weiss has been lured to a new professional opportunity in South Carolina, a location that also is closer to his wife’s family in Georgia.
It’s disappointing that Weiss didn’t stay at KU longer, but the huge strides the KU band program took under his leadership were bound to catch the attention of other universities seeking a new band director.
When Weiss came to KU in August 2007, the KU Marching Jayhawks were fielding a paltry 177 musicians, the smallest band in the Big 12 Conference. Just a year later, that number had grown by 40 percent, and a 250-piece band was greeting football fans at Memorial Stadium. Weiss credited an improved football team and an Orange Bowl trip in January 2008 for some of that increase, but he and his staff also traveled extensively in Kansas and other states, developing relationships with high school band directors and recruiting new members.
The enthusiasm and hard work of the band staff also helped attract new scholarship money and additional support from KU’s athletic department and administration. Shortly after that 250-member band first performed in the fall of 2008, it was announced that Dana and Sue Anderson of Santa Monica, Calif., had donated $100,000 to create an endowment that would provide long-term, stable financial support for the Marching Jayhawks. A couple of months later, Alan Riedel of Garden City added another $200,000 to the endowment.
Although the marching band is one of the most visible assets of the KU band program, Weiss also directed other excellent instrumental groups and was involved in many performances and special programs.
When Riedel announced his gift to the band’s endowment, he noted that Weiss had a vision and “a plan to make that vision come true.” We wish Weiss well as he begins his new job in South Carolina and hope KU’s next director of bands will bring the enthusiasm, expertise and vision needed to build on Weiss’ success.