‘Because of you, I’ve gotten the opportunity to really experiment and create freely,’ student tells benefactors
There are a lot of ways to give back to the University of Colorado Boulder; but be warned, most of them will leave you wanting to give even more.
Sue and Barry Baer made that argument to scores of scholarship donors and recipients at the cozy cabin-themed celebration of scholarship donors and recipients in the College of Arts and Sciences on Feb. 10.
“As newlyweds, we had not a spare penny to spend,” said Sue Baer, who with her husband, Barry, donates to multiple scholarship funds. “Still we treasured the value of giving back and gave the one thing we had, time. So, I did volunteer work while he trained with the Army.”
“If giving is indeed addictive, I hope you will all be hooked.”
Celebrating this year’s event at the Riverside event venue near Arapahoe Road on Broadway, Interim Dean Jim White noted that giving to the college really goes back to the very beginning.
“CU was literally built upon private donations,” said White, noting the university then consisted almost entirely of disciplines now in the College of Arts and Sciences. “The land was donated by three families: the Arnetts, the Andrews and the Smiths. The University of Colorado Boulder was first funded by donations from 104 individuals.”
With milk costing five cents a quart “imagine donating between $50 and $1,000 during that time period,” White said. “When these families were donating money, there wasn’t even an official school to donate the money to.”
But while those donors were giving sight-unseen to the concept of an educated Colorado citizenry, donors today often know the recipients of their generosity. That’s the case with donor Noel Hefty and the recipient of the Noel and Terrence Hefty Scholarship Fund, senior Hanna Ghadessi, a dance major who is minoring in anthropology and business.
“She comes to every one of my performances, and we have lunch at least several times every semester,” said Ghadessi, who is in the fourth year of receiving the $5,000 annual scholarship.
The two now share a rich background in dance that goes well past the occasional meetup. Noel Hefty, who has been named a “Living Legend of Dance,” by the University of Denver University Libraries, was on the board of the Colorado Dance Festival when it gave a venue to a then unknown hip-hop dance artist, Lorenzo "Rennie" Harris back in the ’90s. Now Ghadessi is set to work in a troop headed by Harris, an artist in residence at CU Boulder, who is affiliated with the esteemed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
“I love Hip-Hop,” said Hefty, who also funds a scholarship in her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, and founded the Seamboat Dance Theater in 1972.
Javier, Padilla, a junior studying studio art, created a video, shared during the scholarship celebration and displayed below, shows him talking about the effect of donors’ support. The donations that allow him to offset the cost of his education are important, but smaller donations that offset the cost of his materials are important as well, said Padilla.
“Scholarships allow a lot more freedom in my practice,” especially when identifying new techniques that might allow him to be productive enough to make a living at his art, Padilla said. “I can put work out there at the volume that I need.”
“Because of you, I’ve gotten the opportunity to really experiment and create freely, and had the opportunity to fail, which is really important in my art practice.”
For all donors, these events allow them to be connected not only with the university, but the community of Boulder, said Russell Teets (BS, Engr, 1977), who graduated from Boulder High School in the ’70s, along with his wife, Jany. Their family has funded an undergraduate chemistry scholarship, the David W. Teets Memorial Scholarship, as well as the Otis and Elsie Purchase Teets Family Endowment, which has awards for both instate undergraduates and all graduate students.
“We’re the only ones who are still around, so we get to come,” joked Russell Teets.
But no matter how much alumni have to give, none of it is taken lightly.
“My first gift to CU was in June 1978 for $35,” said Barry Baer (BS, Acct, 1965, MBA, 1972). He added:
“Our bottom line to you today is this: We can all do something to improve the lives of others, no matter what our current stage of life. Don’t wait; the time to give back is now.”