Ardis O. Higgins Music Scholarship

Ardis O. Higgins Music Scholarship

Ardis Higgins was well known in the Santa Barbara community as an author, musician and philanthropist. But it was through her aunt, Carrie Anderson, that Ardis first became aware of California Lutheran College. Ms. Anderson was dean of women and professor of religion at Luther College in Iowa when she learned of the fledgling institution in California. She introduced her niece Ardis to the campus, and Ardis was very impressed.

Years later Ardis made the decision to include CLU in her estate plan and took the necessary steps to design the music scholarship that would bear her name. Ardis loved music, especially sacred organ music. Her family background was in the Lutheran Church, but her husband’s family members were leaders in the Presbyterian Church in Chicago. After completing two years of undergraduate work at St. Olaf College, Ardis earned her bachelor’s in music education and master’s in music from Northwestern University.

Ardis was widowed at a fairly young age. Her husband, a banker, was diagnosed with melanoma. When the disease started to curtail his activities, he began buying up property in Santa Barbara to ensure his wife’s future. Ardis meanwhile began teaching and involved herself in several Santa Barbara music organizations, serving as organist for her church in Montecito. Ardis also wrote books, one of which, Windows on Women, highlighted the accomplishments of several outstanding women, a favorite topic for Ardis.

As Ardis grew older she was faced with an unexpected health problem herself. She began to lose her eyesight due to macular degeneration. She considered moving into University Village across from the CLU campus. However, because she had a faithful companion to see to her needs, she continued to live in her Santa Barbara home until her death in 2010 at age 95. For Ardis, the beautiful thing about music was that it did not require eyesight to be enjoyed and appreciated.

The Ardis O. Higgins Music Scholarship at CLU was one of several music scholarships that Ardis included in her estate plan. Because she believed so strongly in Christian higher education, she wanted part of her legacy to be with CLU. The Ardis O. Higgins Music Scholarship was designed for a music/organ major of Christian faith who wants to study sacred music. Music and her church had been the focus of Ardis’ life, and her hope was that they would be the same for future recipients of her scholarship.