Alumni Giving Makes a Difference in College of Communication and Fine Arts
|A snapshot from the 1970 production of Hair at Memphis State University. The late Keith Kennedy, the University's first director
of theatre, staged the controversial production.
One of the most rewarding aspects of college development involves working with donors
who in turn encourage and enlist others in fund-raising efforts. Their enthusiasm
is infectious, and they lend a unique credibility to the solicitation of funds that
honor or memorialize friends, family members or individuals for whom they have special
regard. The College of Communication and Fine Arts is fortunate to have several such
funds including some in which alumni have played significant roles leading to success.
Keith Kennedy Theatre & Dance Student Enrichment Fund
More than 100 theatre alumni and friends came together in 2009 to endow the Keith
Kennedy Theatre & Dance Student Enrichment Fund. The fund was established in memory
of Keith Kennedy, the University's first director of theatre, who was well known for
his 1970 U of M production of the controversial Broadway hit Hair. Kennedy always
found adventurous ways to expand students' horizons.
Today the fund perpetuates his spirit by supporting a wide range of opportunities
for students, from guest artist residencies to awards for outstanding achievement.
Phil Giberson (MA '70) has said, "My willingness to donate and solicit others to contribute
made me feel proud. Helping to create an endowment to honor Keith's memory was a piece
of cake!" The fund is already making a real difference for students. Just ask junior
Katie Zisson. Because of the Kennedy fund she was able to fly to New York City for an interview
for a summer internship with Oscar Eustis, famed artistic director of The Public Theatre
and the New York Shakespeare Festival. She was hired! The Kennedy legacy continues.
Elinor Kelley Grusin-Journalism Alumni Enrichment Fund
The Elinor Kelley Grusin-Journalism Alumni Enrichment Fund was created for the purpose
of covering some of the many academic expenses not paid by tuition scholarships. Prior
to the retirement of Elinor Grusin (BS '62), long-time and beloved professor of journalism,
students and colleagues expressed interest in establishing a fund in her honor. Early
gifts were made by alumni like Kathleen Bark (MA '93) who said, "Dr. Grusin was absolutely
the best professor and mentor I've ever had. I felt that giving back through this
fund was the perfect way to recognize what she meant to me and many other students."
For several years, the Journalism Alumni Club had placed proceeds from its annual
awards dinner in an account with a purpose similar to that of the Grusin fund. With
everyone's agreement, both sources were combined to form and fully endow the Grusin-Journalism
Alumni Fund. Now students can benefit much sooner from funds raised by the club and
gifts made in honor of Professor Grusin. Mark Thompson (BA '83), alumni club president
at that time, later remarked that in addition to its financial value, "the fund provides
a great connection between students and alumni. It's a chance to reach out to students
and in a very tangible way support their learning experiences."
Edward F. Greaney Communication Endowment Fund
For fifty-plus years, Ed Greaney was part of the leadership at WMC-TV Channel 5. He
came to Channel 5 when it signed on the air in 1949 and continued in top posts almost
to the time of his death in 2005. Colleagues in the local and national broadcast industry
including Frank Gardner (BS '67), retired executive vice president of the Scripps
Howard Foundation, Gaylon Reasons (BPS '03), long-time associate at WMC, and former
news anchor Mason Granger organized to establish the Edward F. Greaney Communication
Endowment Fund. Individual contributions pushed the fund's tally over $30,000. With
a promised matching gift of $25,000 from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the fund exceeded
its endowment goal.
The fund supports a variety of academic needs including student research and the recognition
of top students in the Department of Communication where television and radio programming
and production are a major focus. Among family members who made contributions during
the fund's building period was Greaney's son, Devin (BLS '07). "I was in love with
the idea once I heard about the plan from some of my father's friends to help him
live on through this fund. I am glad his fund is making a positive difference, especially
since expenses have increased so much in the short time since I spent my days at the
University of Memphis," Greaney says.
For more information or to make a donation to any of the funds through the University
of Memphis Foundation, contact Patty Bladon (901) 678-4372.