For the outgoing 2010, the Award is to the almost ‘Over the Hill Gang’ who recognized an impending community tragedy and had sufficient confidence in their own abilities and integrity to ‘go where Angels fear to tread’, that is to take the leadership of the Pennsylvania Academy of Music.
Holmes Morton, MD and Tom Godfrey, MD were not deterred by the turning on the Academy by its past benefactor and chair and the public chagrin and anger over the loss of the $30 million dollar signature building resulting from the unrealistic vision of the artistic founders, Michael Jamanis and Fran Veri, as countenanced by the Academy’s Board of Trustees and its generous but inept past chairman, Paul Ware.
Both Morton as chair and Godfrey as president served as volunteers. Attorney Jacques Geisenberger took on representation of the Academy, successfully facing down large law firms who were intent in dismantling the Academy per the whim of their clients.
(The Steinman Foundation by and large played a constructive role.)
Shutting down PAM would have been a classic example of “throwing out the baby with the wash.” Morton and Godfrey recognized that the Academy was not real estate, but rather a living institution; nor was it about its founders and history, but rather its faculty and students. Undeterred by public criticism and unafraid to joust with pillars of the Lancaster establishment, they asserted PAM’s legal rights through Chapter 11 bankruptcy procedures and successfully relocated the Academy back to Liberty Place.
There it provides instruction for a reported 170 students and generates a variety of musical events for the public, performed at Liberty Place and at other venues throughout the county.
Unlike their well meaning but less more passive predecessors, Morton and Godfrey were not native to the area and, as such, not deterred by long term establishment relationships. Rather they had but one goal in mind: Preserving and helping PAM to flourish in the future. And they were not to be deterred.
Lancaster would benefit from a couple of dozen more leaders like them.