The School of Music has received a $2.5 million donation to enhance the school’s presence in the New Haven community, Acting Dean Thomas Duffy announced Thursday.

The donation, made by Donald Roberts ’57 to the Class of 1957 Music Education Endowment, will be used to endow a professorship in music education and to enhance the educational outreach programs of the school. The class hopes to eventually raise a total of $5 million for the music school by its 50th reunion in 2007, Duffy said.

Yale President Richard Levin said he expects the donation to make a difference at Yale and in the community.

“It is an excellent opportunity for the Music School to make an impact on young people in and around New Haven,” he said.

Duffy said the Class of 1957 adopted the $5 million endowment as their class gift after their 40th reunion in 1997, and Roberts’ donation will provide an incentive gift to help the class achieve the $5 million goal. He said he expects the donation to make an impact on the music school

“His support fills the needs of various programs,” Duffy said. “This gift will support our pedagogical future, and is the result of 10 years of this resourceful and successful man’s research.”

The Music School announced Roberts’ donation at a Thursday afternoon reception in Sprague Hall, said professor Ezra Laderman, a former dean of the school.

Laderman said the donation is a validation of the school’s status in the music community.

“It is thrilling that the class sees fit to continue the sense of excitement of what is happening at the School of Music,” he said.

Alex Weill MUS ’08 said she was unaware of the donation, but thinks it is a commendable initiative.

“I think it’s an awesome idea to help develop the minds of children, because the only time they are exposed to classical music is in schools,” Weill said.

The Class of 1957 has funded various educational outreaches at the school since 2002 through the Lincoln-Bassett Program, which sends 18 music students to teach music at Lincoln-Bassett Elementary School annually, Duffy said.

Roberts is a native of New York who studied engineering at Yale. He went on to become the vice chair of the U.S. Trust Company of New York. Roberts has also completed the Boston Marathon 29 times.