PMO to celebrate gifts for Ralph and Bettye Bailey Hall

November 11, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue Musical Organizations on Monday (Nov. 15) will hold a celebration in honor of the 472 donors to Ralph E. and Bettye J. Holder Bailey Hall, a new facility to house PMO.

Bettye and Ralph Bailey

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Ralph and Bettye Bailey, for whom the building is named, made the lead gift of $4.5 million. In total, more than $8.1 million was raised for the facility.

The public is invited to the free program from 10-10:30 a.m. in Elliott Hall of Music. An invitation-only reception will follow.

For 70 years, the vocal and handbell ensembles that comprise PMO have been housed throughout Elliott Hall of Music. Last summer, student rehearsal spaces and music director offices were relocated to University Church near campus until the new building is constructed.

"Purdue Musical Organizations offers an opportunity for talented students to grow artistically while entertaining audiences around the world," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "Ralph and Bettye Bailey played a crucial role in helping us provide these students and their directors with the first-class facility they have long needed and deserved."

The new building is intended to provide a space large enough for all ensembles to rehearse together as well as smaller practice rooms, space for collaborating with campus and community groups, and office and storage space. It also will provide a location to spotlight PMO's rich history and traditions and to recognize current and former students, volunteers and donors.

PMO's roots date to 1893 when 11 students sang in the first Glee Club. PMO was founded in 1933 by the Glee Club's first director, Albert P. Stewart.

Currently, PMO's ensembles include Purdue Varsity Glee Club, Purduettes, University Choir, Purdue Bells, Heart and Soul, All Campus and Community Chorale, and the PMO Specialties. Students present more than 120 performances each year, including the Purdue Christmas Show, which is broadcast internationally on public television and radio networks.

Ralph Bailey is chairman of American Bailey Corp. of Stamford, Conn., a private investment company. He also is chairman emeritus of Fuel Tech Inc. and is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Conoco Inc.

Bettye Bailey served as a trustee of Wilmington University (formerly Wilmington College) in Wilmington, Del., for 23 years.

The Baileys have enjoyed performances by PMO for many years.

"I have always felt that their fine voices, high energy and engaging personalities make the students of PMO not only role models for other students, but also great ambassadors for Purdue," Ralph Bailey has said. "Purdue is without a music school, but these young people ensure that it is not a school without music, which is so important for a well-rounded education."

Ralph Bailey grew up in Lynnville, in southwest Indiana. He came to Purdue in 1942 and completed one year before joining the military. He married Bettye soon after the war and returned to Purdue in 1946. He earned his degree in mechanical engineering in 1949.

His first job out of Purdue was in the coal mining business in southern Indiana. He served as chairman and CEO of Consolidation Coal (now Consol Energy) before joining Conoco. He became chairman and CEO of Conoco in 1979. He co-founded American Bailey Corp. with his son, Douglas, in 1984 and joined American Bailey after his retirement from Conoco in 1987.

Ralph Bailey received an honorary doctorate in mechanical engineering from Purdue in 1979. He was named an Outstanding Mechanical Engineer in 1991. He also received the President's Council Distinguished Service Award in 1986 and was an Engineering Distinguished Alumnus and Purdue Old Master in 1976.

He has served Purdue in several leadership roles, including on three fundraising campaigns: the Plan for the Eighties, which he chaired; Vision 21 Campaign; and the Campaign for Purdue, serving on the national steering committee.

In 1984, after raising four children, Bettye Bailey decided to pursue a degree and earned a bachelor's degree in social sciences from the University of Pittsburgh.

The couple also has established the Ralph and Bettye Bailey Professorship of Combustion in Mechanical Engineering and the Ralph and Bettye Bailey Purdue Merit Scholarship.

Writer:  Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432,  

Sources:   France A. Córdova,

                    William Griffel, PMO director,

                   Cheryl Altinkemer, associate vice president of advancement, 765-494-8218,