Ron Blankinship awarded $28,000 grant from Chickasha Community Foundation

An image of Ron Blankinship and representatives of the Chickasha Community Foundation

Ron Blankinship awarded $28,000 grant from Chickasha Community Foundation


Ron Blankinship, instructor of percussion at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, was recently awarded more than $28,000 from the Chickasha Community Foundation. The funds will be used to purchase a five-octave marimba as well as steel drums for the creation of a new ensemble.

These new instruments will allow the USAO Music Department to include a traveling percussion and steel drum ensemble in its performances on campus and around the state. The department will also include leading a steel drum band in its music education curriculum, giving students an additional advantage in the job market.

Feeling that these instruments are essential to students’ future success, Blankinship created a price list for the marimba and steel drums made by Ellie Mannette, one of the innovators of the instrument. He approached the foundation on the recommendation of Chickasha Mayor Chris Mosley.

“When I heard that we would get the funding, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement,” said Blankinship. “Steel drum bands are one of the fastest growing ensembles in American schools and I wanted our students to have access to these instruments to prepare them for potential jobs. Similarly, there are many contemporary marimba solos that students couldn’t play because we didn’t have this larger instrument. I enjoy watching my students develop their talents and grow in their abilities, and I want them to be ready for any musical opportunity after graduation.”

Blankinship earned a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in ministry from Oklahoma Christian University. He is the preaching minister at Southern Oaks Church of Christ and in his spare time enjoys playing steel drums at nursing homes and schools in the area. He and his wife Heather have four children.

The mission of the USAO Music Department is to train students to be capable and effective music educators, as well as to prepare graduates for the rigors of a career as a professional performer or for graduate study in music. All of the department’s full-time faculty members hold the terminal degree in their field. The campus features two superb music facilities and numerous performing ensembles.