Behind the music
Professor and son pen VCU’s first alma mater
By Anthony Langley
A year and a half ago, Lemont “Monty” B. Kier, Ph.D., began reflecting on his time and experiences at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“I’ve been here since 1977,” says Kier, who has taught and held various roles in VCU Life Sciences’ Center for the Study of Biological Complexity, the School of Allied Health Professions Department of Nurse Anesthesia, and the School of Pharmacy departments of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science and Medicinal Chemistry, the latter of which he served as chair for 10 years. “I’m so fond of the diversity and the opportunities that I’ve had here I began to write a little poem about it.”
As he started writing, Kier learned that VCU did not have an alma mater, which prompted him to take his poem and transform it into “We Gather Here,” the university’s new, official anthem. The song celebrates the values and memories Kier believes that each and every student makes while at VCU.
“When you walk around the campus, there are people from all around the world,” he says. “The opening verse tells you what our colors mean: diversity and value.”
Upon completing the lyrics, he brought them to his son, Andrew Kier (B.M.’90/A), who took his father’s words and sketched out a rough melody on paper, adding in chords to fill in spaces where needed. About a week later, he loaded the finished music into a software program that helped him finalize the musical arrangement.
“I think it will draw people together,” says Andrew Kier. “It’s a great honor to have it chosen as the alma mater, and I’m proud to be connected to VCU in this additional way.”
While the father-and-son duo were working on the song, Monty Kier shared a draft with Gordon McDougall, associate vice president for university alumni relations, who in turn shared it with VCU’s leaders.
“The university asked the VCU Alumni board of governors to adopt ‘We Gather Here,’” McDougall says. “I’m proud of what Monty and his son accomplished. It’s a great moment for the university.”
In March, the board approved “We Gather Here” as VCU’s official alma mater. Kier is excited to see what comes next for the song and its impact on the university.
“It tells a story about how good it is here. There’s a wonderful spirit that surrounds everyone at VCU,” he says. “Making this contribution is one of the highlights of my career.”
– Anthony Langley is a VCU senior majoring in mass communications.
“We Gather Here”
Lyrics: Monty Kier
Music: Andrew Kier
We gather here, our voices raise, of VCU we sing our praise, the Black and Gold our colors show, diversity and value grow. We’ve learned so much beyond each class, the joy of friendship will not pass.
So much in life is mem’ry borne, of VCU they’ll not be shorn.
The mem’ries of a campus walk, so many friends, we stop to talk, the friendships here were made to last, they’re in our minds though years have passed. The seasons pass, the years roll by, from VCU the reason’s why we are enriched from values learned, they bring us joy that we have earned.
Next year again we will be here to see our school and give a cheer. So VCU keep all that is great, you’ve brought us joy that is our fate. So come let us sing of VCU, with ev’ry verse we will renew the mem’ries from our campus time, each one embedded in a rhyme.