by Robin Kemp

Clayton State University says it has received a $5 million gift from the late Lon Melton Carnes, Jr. to establish a music education endowment.

The donation makes possible four $24,000 four-year scholarships for music performance and music education majors.

In recognition of the gift, the university will name its music education building the Carnes Hall for Music. 40 students are enrolled in Clayton State’s music programs, according to the university.

Visual and Performing Arts Chair Dr. Terre Johnson said, “As a result of the generous bequest that has created the Carnes Scholarship Fund, Clayton State will be able to offer enhanced musical study to a larger group of deserving students at little or no cost to them. The future of music study at Clayton State will be bright for future generations, thanks to this unprecedented gift.”

Carnes, a Jonesboro native, was one of the charter members of the Spivey Hall Friends, a donor group established in 2002 to support Clayton State’s internationally renowned 390-seat performance hall. He was an Army veteran, served as professor and chair of Georgia Southern University’s Parker College of Business, and retired as professor emeritus after 27 years. He died Sept. 25, 2019 in Statesboro.

“Dr. Carnes, as it was shared with me, was inspired by the legacy created by the Walter and Emily Spivey gift establishing Spivey Hall,” said Clayton State Vice President of University Advancement and External Affairs Chase Moore. “Dr. Carnes believed that Clayton State University could, with adequate resources, educate and train the caliber of artist that might one day perform at Spivey.¬† The Carnes legacy will transform music education at Clayton State.”

Clayton State University President Dr. Tim Hynes and former Director of Development Reda Rowell joined Carnes in signing paperwork to establish the $5 million endowment.

Carnes, who held degrees from the University of Georgia and Georgia State, also established the Lon Carnes Music Scholarship Endowment at Georgia Southern.

Learn more about Clayton State’s music scholarships at