UNCSA Announces $7 million in Fundraising Success in Just Two Months

$1 million gift from Chancellor Emeritus Alex Ewing will provide scholarships beginning Fall 2016
Gillian Murphy Scholarship fund boosted by visit from Murphy and colleagues from American Ballet Theatre, including Misty Copeland


The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) has raised nearly $7 million in the past two months, Chancellor Lindsay Bierman announced.

Chancellor Emeritus Alex Ewing is flanked by UNC President Margaret Spellings and Chancellor Lindsay Bierman at a UNCSA Board of Trustees Meeting on April 29.

At a recent meeting of the school’s Board of Trustees, Bierman announced $1.9 million in gifts for scholarships and a $5 million pledge to help upgrade the largest performance venue on campus.

“Now’s the time to build on the momentum of the $6.9 million we’ve raised in the past few months alone,” Bierman said of the recent fundraising success. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far and am excited about our future.”

The largest scholarship gift, $1 million, was from Chancellor Emeritus Alex C. Ewing, in honor of his late wife Sheila Ewing, who died in November 2015. The Alex and Sheila Ewing Scholarship fund will benefit students in each of UNCSA’s five arts schools beginning in Fall 2016.

“Alex Ewing has left his mark on this institution in many ways,” Bierman said. “This generous gift ensures that he and Sheila will continue to make a difference in the lives of our young artists for many years to come.”

Chancellor Emeritus Alex Ewing (seated) received a standing ovation from those attending the April 29 Board of Trustees meeting, including members of the UNCSA Executive Cabinet, from left: Provost David Nelson, Chief of Staff Jim DeCristo, University Counsel David Harrison, Chief Advancement Officer Edward J. Lewis, Vice Provost and Dean of Academic Affairs David English, Human Resources Director James Lucas, and Kenan Institute Executive Director Corey Madden.
Chancellor Emeritus Alex Ewing (seated) received a standing ovation from those attending the April 29 Board of Trustees meeting, including members of the UNCSA Executive Cabinet.

During his tenure from 1990 to 2000, Ewing founded the School of Filmmaking, where the three-theatre exhibition complex is named ACE in his honor. He established the Lucia Chase Endowed Fellowship in Dance, named for his mother who was a principal dancer and longtime artistic director with American Ballet Theatre. The fellowship annually provides funding for world-renowned guest artists in the School of Dance.

“Our students continue to benefit from both his vision and generosity,” Bierman said of Ewing. “The School of the Arts has no greater friend than Alex Ewing.”

Bierman also announced a $250,000 gift from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous for scholarships in the School of Drama. “We are profoundly grateful for this generous gift by a dear, longtime friend of the school,” Bierman said.

Bierman also reported to the trustees on a recent event that raised $200,000 to fully endow the Gillian Murphy Scholarship in Dance at $650,000. Established in 2014, the scholarship is named for one of UNCSA’s most celebrated alumni, who is a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT).

“I call it the $200,000 dinner,” Bierman said. “Dance Dean Susan Jaffe hosted an extraordinary performance by Gillian and her colleagues who are stars of the American Ballet Theatre, including Misty Copeland and fellow UNCSA alumnus Blaine Hoven. The performance and the dinner afterward netted enough to fully endow the scholarship.”

American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland performed during a benefit for the Gillian Murphy Scholarship at UNCSA.

Jaffe expects to award the second scholarship from the endowment this summer, for a student to begin study in the School of Dance this fall.

The $5 million pledge announced by Bierman is among the largest gifts in the school’s 50-year history. From an unnamed donor, it will supplement $2.9 million in Connect NC bond money earmarked to begin renovation of Performance Place, the largest performance venue and classroom on campus. “We consider this naming gift the lead gift in the quiet phase of our comprehensive capital campaign,” Bierman said.

Opened in 1988, Performance Place is the primary training facility for UNCSA’s schools of Drama and Design & Production. It also hosts several School of Music events, such as the Jazz Ensemble.

Chief Advancement Officer Edward J. Lewis said UNCSA is in the preliminary stages of planning the campaign. “We look forward to announcing our goal in the public phase, but for now we are thrilled to build on the $6.9 million in recent gifts,” he said.

Last summer, Lewis announced that investments made on behalf of the school had reached a combined market value of more than $50 million. “This is a major milestone for such a young institution,” he said. “Surpassing the $50 million mark during our 50th anniversary year underscores the strong commitment to the school by so many individuals, foundations, corporations and businesses.”

A $50 million endowment places UNCSA in the top 16 percent of colleges and universities, Lewis said.

Alumna Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside of American Ballet Theatre in a benefit performance at UNCSA in April.

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is America’s first state-supported arts school, a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in dance, design and production, drama, filmmaking, and music. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system when it was formed in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.