The Department of Music within the College of Fine Arts at The University of New Mexico is now offering the first scholarship specific to jazz studies.

The Richard Karmel Endowed Scholarship in Jazz Studies will be awarded each year to a deserving student in UNM’s jazz studies program. The inaugural scholarship will be awarded to a students enrolled in the 2024-25 academic year. Students interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree or concentration in jazz studies, and applying for this annual scholarship, will find more information online.

The scholarship is named in memory of Professor Richard Karmel through a gift made by Nina Forrest. Karmel had a successful career as a professor of psychology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, but his life-long passion was jazz. He played the clarinet and saxophone, dabbled in piano, and collaborated with some of the finest musicians in Montreal, performing and composing jazz instrumentals. Additionally, he co-edited two books titled Psychoanalytic Explorations in Music and Psychoanalytic Explorations in Music: Second Series (International Universities Press, Madison, 1990, 1993).

Forrest established the scholarship to honor her late brother. Inspired by Spanish musician Joan Chamorro, who works with youth musicians, she decided to find a way to impact jazz musicians in Albuquerque. Once she discovered UNM’s thriving jazz scene and degree program, she decided to continue Karmel’s legacy and honor her brother’s memory with this endowed scholarship at UNM.

Glenn Kostur, director of the Jazz Studies Program at UNM said, “We are thrilled to be able to award the Richard Karmel Endowed Scholarship in Jazz Studies to a student at UNM. This scholarship will significantly help a deserving student on their journey to develop as a jazz musician. Jazz was an important part of Richard’s life, just as it’s an important part of the Department of Music at UNM. We are delighted that his sister has chosen us to honor her brother.”

Karmel learned to play and love jazz as a child, taught by a music teacher who came to his home in Philadelphia. According to his sister, “Home was always filled with a variety of music genres, but Richard’s jazz took front and center.” After graduating from Temple University, Karmel pursued a doctorate in psychology from the University of Ottawa. He taught at McGill University and lived in Montreal for 30 years.

The Jazz Studies program at UNM provides a comprehensive education in jazz, leading to a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies. The performing ensembles include two big bands and several small jazz combos. Other courses include a four-semester sequence of improvisation, jazz arranging, jazz theory/keyboard and jazz history. Jazz classes are open to all UNM students, regardless of major. Ensembles are by audition only, and other courses may include prerequisites.

The Jazz Studies concentration is a preprofessional program for those whose intent is to pursue a career as a music performer in jazz and commercial styles of music. Students enrolled in this program are expected to attain a high standard of performance on their instrument, including the development of skills in jazz improvisation. This degree also prepares the student for success at the graduate level of study in the area of jazz.

Those wishing to contribute tax-deductible gifts to this scholarship fund may contact Shelly Smith, director of Development, UNM Fine Arts, at Or donate to the UNM Fund for Jazz Studies.