Arts Scholars receive $2M from angel donor
University alumnus Sandy Miller donates funds, benefits art disciplines, creates J. Sanford Miller Family Fund
The University announced this week that the College Arts Scholars program has received a $2 million donation from University alumnus Sandy Miller intended to advance the University’s art disciplines.
Since 2011, the Arts Scholars program has provided a venue for 15 to 20 incoming undergraduates to interact with some of the University’s arts faculty through an enrichment experience. Arts Scholars also are eligible to apply for program-specific summer research grants.
Miller’s donation will allow arts faculty to build on the program’s earlier successes in interweaving artistic disciplines at the University, although the specific uses of the funds are yet to be determined, according to a University press statement released Monday.
“Artists having cross interdisciplinary discussions and interacting with faculty in and outside the arts departments — just that alone is worth more than $2 million to me,” said Michael Rasbury, Arts Scholars program director and associate professor of sound design. “If you’re doing something great without the donation, just think about what you can do with the donation.
The $2 million gift will help create the J. Sanford Miller Family Fund for Arts Scholars, a fund that reflects Miller’s belief in the program’s “high potential,” according to a University statement.
“We are very happy,” said Howard Singerman, chairman of the Arts Scholars program and associate professor of art. “For a long time we have wanted to make clear that we have a very strong arts department.”
The Arts Scholars program fights an uphill battle to attract to the University artistically gifted students who may favor smaller art colleges.
“U.Va. is known for a lot of things — science and social sciences — and has been in the past less known for the art departments and I think this will be a way to attract students,” Singerman said. “U.Va. has not traditionally been a place where aspiring art students go — we want to put U.Va. on their map.”
The program accepts incoming students yearly based on an arts supplement package submitted by the students to the Admissions Office during the admissions process, which highlights their talents in dance, drama, studio art or music.
Even though there are no specific prerequisites or applications, Singerman said high academic performance is essential to become a scholar.
“They are U.Va. students, or at least they will be,” he said. “They are young artists, musicians, dancers and writers, and they come out of the same high schools that other U.Va. students come from.”