Benefactor gives $100,000 for arts scholarship

GENESEO, N.Y. - On Oct. 27, longtime friend of the College and six-year town resident Herbert Hawley pledged to donate $100,000 to establish a scholarship in memory of his late friend Jean M. Besser. The first of the scholarships funded by the annuity will be available in 2007 and is designated exclusively for music, theater and art majors.

"I think this is absolutely wonderful," said theatre professor Melanie Blood. "We often lose talented, bright freshmen because we do not have the kind of scholarships available that private institutions do. We have many very talented and dedicated students across all the art forms at Geneseo who will be able to benefit from Mr. Hawley's generosity."

Hawley is an avid patron and supporter of the arts programs at Geneseo. Throughout the years Hawley's donations have been in both monetary form and through vocal promotions for College productions and exhibitions.

Besser, who graduated from Geneseo in 1943 with a degree in elementary education, was extremely active in alumni affairs at the school before her death in 2000, including membership on the alumni board. She received two awards for her work with the Alumni Association. In 1988, she was given the Distinguished Service Award, which acknowledged her contributions to the association, and in 1993, she received the Society of Old Main Award for 50 years of exemplary leadership.

The Geneseo Alumni Association (GAA) is led by a group of 24 board members and is representative of over 30,000 alumni. The group works with the College on recruitment, career development, and fundraising. GAA is also responsible for organizing alumni functions such as reunions and other special events.

After graduating from Geneseo and receiving her master's degree from Syracuse University, Besser served as art director in Holcomb for 31 years. The scholarship being dedicated to her memory will benefit those entering Geneseo's School of the Arts and therefore support one of Besser's passions.

"The School of the Arts is very grateful for Mr. Hawley's generous financial support of Geneseo's performing and visual arts. Indeed, Mr. Hawley always has been a frequent and enthusiastic attendee at our many concerts, shows, and gallery exhibitions, and it is gratifying to now see his enthusiasm manifested as an endowment to fund student scholarships in the arts," said School of the Arts Director Jack Johnston. "In a more personal tone, I want to tell you that Herb Hawley has very quietly dedicated his life to doing the right thing and that I'm pleased beyond words to have School of the Arts included in his charitable mission," he said.

Information from this article was taken from an Office of Communications and Publications press release.