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Fine Arts receives "watershed" gift of $1.2 million: Donation will fund scholarships,professorship, studio space, special projects

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October 12, 2005

Source: University of Calgary:

Fine Arts receives "watershed" gift of $1.2 million: Donation will fund scholarships,professorship, studio space, special projects

When John Lefebvre was a law student at the University of Calgary in the late ’70s, he used to find a welcome escape from torts and contracts in the Faculty of Fine Arts. He would shut himself into a practice room, sometimes late at night, and play the piano to his heart’s content. Later, Lefebvre said that the opportunity to unwind into his music was crucial to his successful experience at U of C.

Now, this alum (LLB ’82) and former students’ union president is saying thank you with a gift of more than $1.2 million to the Faculty of Fine Arts, which will be used to establish entrance awards for Fine Arts students, fund new faculty positions, refurbish studio space and take promising arts projects to a new level of prominence.

"This is an extraordinary show of support for the arts at the University of Calgary," says President Harvey Weingarten. "And it comes at a key time – on the eve of our 40th anniversary. This donation will allow us to build on our strong Fine Arts tradition and position us for even greater successes in the future."

Lefebvre, a co-founder and director of global e-commerce business NETeller, is a life-long lover of the arts. A musician, he also collects art at his home on Salt Spring Island. His decision to support the Faculty of Fine Arts grew out of his belief that the arts need to be more of a priority for society. "Art is a way for people to step up and express themselves as human beings," he says. "Every time you do that, it makes you a better person. And every time you hear or see the expression of somebody else, it touches you, and you become a better person. Cultured people are compassionate people."

Students will see results of Lefebvre’s gift almost immediately with additional professors, significant support for projects and performances with potential for high community profile, and the elevation of the arts as an integral part of everyday campus life.

"This is a watershed gift," says Ann Calvert, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts. "John is showing his faith in our faculty’s work while seeking to encourage other patrons in our community to provide continuing support. This gift recognizes the strength that is here, while helping us to shine more brightly on the national and international stage."

The donation will be used to establish:

  • Fine Arts entrance awards. Four awards of $2,000 each will go to the top entering students in Dance, Drama and Music, and the student with the top portfolio for admission to Art. They will be named in honour of professor emeritus and founding member of the Art department John Will (Art); Calgary actor and professor emeritus of the Drama department Grant Reddick (Drama); Decidedly Jazz Danceworks leader Vicki Adams Willis (Dance); and in memory of Vondis Miller (Music), an eminent music professor and leader in music education.

  • The John Peter Lee Roberts Distinguished Professorship in Fine Arts. Violinist and U of C music professor Edmond Agopian has been appointed to this professorship, which is named in honour of John Roberts, a former dean who has had a brilliant career in music leadership. Agopian will act as artistic director and principal performer of the U of C String Quartet.

  • The Joyce and Quentin Doolittle Fine Arts Studio. Named after Joyce and Quentin Doolittle, professors emeriti from Drama and Music (Composition) respectively, this studio in Craigie Hall will act as a multi-disciplinary space for rehearsals and small performances, with amenities such as improved acoustics, sprung floors, digital media and state-of-the-art lighting.

  • The Lefebvre Fine Arts Project Fund. This fund will support special projects that bring the arts to the internal U of C community and wider community, seed innovative works, support international travel for students and faculty, and strengthen teaching and research opportunities.

    "It's an incredible gift," says 4th year Drama Education student Janet McCloy. "These scholarships will help make our faculty competitive when students are choosing which school to attend, and the new studio will give our departments even more opportunities to work collaboratively.
    " This donation gives people something to be proud of: it proves that the fine arts are important to the University and that our efforts are being recognized."

    A formal announcement of this donation will be made at a reception today, Wednesday Oct. 12, at 5:30 p.m. at the Rosza Centre at the University of Calgary, featuring a performance by the U of C’s Rooster Blues Band. All media are welcome to attend.

    For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:

    Joann Reynolds
    Communications Manager,
    Dance & Drama


    Grady Semmens
    External Relations
    220-7722 or cell: 651-2515


    Grady Semmens
    Media Relations Advisor – Research
    University of Calgary
    Phone: (403) 220-7722
    Cell: (403) 651-2515
    Fax: (403) 220-1312

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