College of Communication and Fine Arts
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The Stories of Giving

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.

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Last Updated: 2/2/12