May 9, 2011
Thanks to a recent gift from a famous comedian and his wife, 16 incoming first-year arts students will be beneficiaries of a new College Arts Scholars program at the University of Virginia.
According to UVa Today, the donation from comedian Stephen Colbert and his wife Evelyn McGee Colbert, who graduated from UVa in 1985, will go to the College of Arts & Sciences to create the College Arts Scholars program. The program will provide arts scholars with special access to the best resources at the university as well as funding for an arts-intensive summer project.
"The program will give us the ability to recruit, retain and educate some of the most exceptional young artists and artist-scholars in the Commonwealth and the nation," said Bruce Holsinger, associate dean for the arts and humanities.
Incoming Arts Scholars will need to submit an arts supplement package as part of their undergraduate application. Each year, 15 to 20 incoming arts students who have demonstrated exceptional talent in studio art, dance, drama or music will be selected to join the program.
Furthermore, The Daily Progress reported, those who major or minor in one of those disciplines will be eligible for a Colbert Arts Scholars Award, an award worth up to $3,000 to help fund an intensive art-related summer project at the end of their third year.
Evelyn Colbert told the university that she believes the program will help create a close-knit community of artists who can help each other navigate through college and motivate one another to continue pursuing their passion.
Pursuing a career in the arts has always been viewed as a difficult thing to do. However, according to The Washington Post, a recent survey by The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project found that 92 percent of arts graduates who wanted to work were able to find a job soon after graduating. Moreover, two-thirds of those surveyed reported that their first job was close to the kind of work they wanted to do.
UVa Today noted that the Arts Scholars program is part of a bigger transformation of the arts at the university, including the 2008 completion of a new home for the studio art program, 2009 renovations to the University of Virginia Art Museum and current construction to add a 300-seat theatre to the Drama Building.
According to Holsinger, the new program "is part of our vision of the arts as an indispensable part of the student experience."
Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin
"Colbert Gift to U.Va. Helps Launch New College Arts Scholars Program," virginia.edu, May 3, 2011
"Stephen Colbert and wife donate to U-Va. arts program," washingtonpost.com, May 4, 2011, Jenna Johnson
"Stephen Colbert, wife donate to UVa fine-arts fund," dailyprogress.com, May 4, 2011