By Published: March 18, 2022

CU Boulder graduate Rose Ann Bershenyi’s ‘gifts are transformative’

The list of Rose Ann Bershenyi’s significant gifts to the University of Colorado Boulder is impressively long.

Bershenyi (Art’66; MFA’69), who grew up in Boulder and spent her career as an art teacher specializing in jewelry and metalsmithing at then-Baseline Junior High School, has focused her many gifts over the years at arts programs.

“I wanted to make a difference for programs that don’t always receive gifts and students who may have a hard time getting a scholarship. Too often moneys aren’t available to the arts and people in the arts,” says Bershenyi, whose mother was a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder.

Beyond art, Bershenyi has also given to Inside the Greenhouse Project, which works to deepen our understanding of how climate change-related issues are and can be communicated. The project does this by creatively communicating the complex topic through interactive theatre, film, fine art, performance art and television programming. 

The Martyr, from the series Unofficial Portraits by Hung Liu

At the top of the page: Rose Ann Bershenyi meets with a few recipients of the many gifts she’s provided over the years at the College of Arts & Sciences Scholarship Brunch in 2018. Photo by Amber Story. Above: The Martyr, from the series Unofficial Portraits by Hung Liu, is part of the Sharkive, whose presence at CU Boulder was made possible in part through a gift by Rose Ann Bershenyi.

She has created endowed scholarships for students in art and art history, theatre and dance, the CU in D.C. program, and the Miramontes Arts & Sciences Program (MASP), which is an inclusive academic community for traditionally underrepresented and/or first-generation college students.

Bershenyi’s gifts have helped many individual students, as well as numerous institutions on campus.

Bershenyi has supported the CU Art Museum’s acquisition of artworks, including a quilt by Gina Adams and the Sharkive, an internationally important collection of prints created in the studio of Bud and Barbara Shark.

“Having (the Sharkive) materials on campus for class use, exhibition and research means that we can offer our visitors access to artwork by internationally known artists made in our own backyard,” says Hope Saska, curator for the CU Art Museum, noting just one example of Bershenyi’s legacy. “The acquisition offers numerous pedagogical opportunities, not only in the range of artists the Sharkive encompasses, but in the way the materials demonstrate artistic process.”

Bershenyi’s generosity was essential in making sure that two important funds reached endowment status: the Art and Art History Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Endowed Scholarship Fund to provide scholarships for students who help diversify the student body, and a fellowship in the dance program to provide support for MFA candidates.

She recently gave to the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies (CNAIS), and she helped to fully endow two funds that support students of dance.

“I’ve never had a donor like her,” says Amber Story, associate director of development in the Office of Advancement for the College of Arts and Sciences. “Her gifts are transformative. She doesn’t want it to be about her; she just wants to help. She loves CU, loves Boulder, and she trusts the university to do the right thing. She is gold.”

Bershenyi, who now lives in Aurora, is hesitant to put herself in the spotlight, preferring to let her gifts speak for themselves. She says she seeks guidance from Story and others to determine where her donations will have the most impact and expects to continue giving into the foreseeable future.

“I give when I’m inspired, where it’s needed the most, with guidance,” she says.