Donors recognized, students thankful at luncheon

By Alexandra Kukulka

As Columbia increases its scholarship fund, it also gives thanks to its donors.

The second annual Students First Scholarship Luncheon, an event that recognizes scholarship donors, took place on Nov. 13 in the 618 S. Michigan Ave. Building. The Weaver Family Foundation, Cynthia Greene McChesney, Clay Greene and The Nielsen Company were honored for their contributions to the college’s student scholarship fund. Each donor received a 2012 Student

First Award.

“Many [students] would not be here if it hadn’t been for [donors] …helping students reach their dreams,” said President Warrick

L. Carter.

During the event, the Faculty & Staff Scholarship Committee, a grassroots effort that supports student scholarships while building a community between faculty and staff, was presented with a Culture of Philanthropy Award.

Pattie Mackenzie, assistant dean of Faculty Advising, said the recognition was surprising but appreciated.

“[The award] rewards all of us who have come together to support students, especially during a recession,” Mackenzie said.

Carter announced that Scholarship Columbia, a grant program that matches faculty, staff, alumni and administration donations, has raised $1.6 million since 2009. The scholarship’s deadline was set for the end of this academic year, but Carter said the program will extend through the summer.

“That way we make sure that all those deserving students are [at Columbia], because they want to be here,” Carter said.

Kendall Williamson, a senior audio arts & acoustics major, introduced Leslie Weaver Weinberg, a 1987 arts, entertainment & media management alumna, and her husband, Hilton Weinberg, a 1985 AEMM alumnus, and presented them with the Student First Award.

Both alumni came to Columbia to pursue master’s degrees in AEMM, Williamson said. After they earned their degrees, Hilton Weinberg went on to pursue a career in the music industry, while Leslie Weinberg became a philanthropist through The Weaver Family Foundation, founded in 2002. The foundation supports various arts, education and social welfare organizations and has been donating to the college’s scholarship fund since 2010.

“Coming to this school and seeing what it offered years ago [allowed us] to be in the position to give something back,” Hilton Weinberg said. “[Donating to Columbia] is a little something to give back, so that other people will have the opportunities we did.”

Jacob Biniszkiewicz, a junior audio arts & acoustics and AEMM major, presented Cynthia Greene McChesney, director of development for the Reynolds Family Spine Laboratory at the Spine Center of New Jersey, and Clay Greene, assistant general counsel at Northwestern Mutual, with the Student First Award.

In 2006, siblings McChesney and Greene and their family established the Clarke A. Greene Memorial Scholarship for Entrepreneurial Spirit in memory of their father.

Clay Greene said his father was a small business owner his entire life who became a faculty member in the AEMM Department in 1998, working there until he died from pancreatic cancer in 2005. During his time at Columbia, Clarke Green was the coordinator of the department’s entrepreneurial concentration and co-authored the book “Arts Entrepreneurship: The Business of the Arts.”

The Clark A. Greene Memorial Scholarship recognizes entrepreneurship and outstanding academic achievement in continuing junior and senior AEMM students.

“Our hope is that the financial award will not only defray the cost of education but also give [students] a little bit of freedom to work on developing their business plan, so when they graduate, they will be more prepared to start their own small business,” Clay Greene said.

Gabrielle Stinett, a junior AEMM major, introduced The Neilsen Company, presenting it with the Student First Award.

The Neilsen Company is a global information and media measurement company that focuses on marketing and consumer information. In 2010, the organization made a five-year commitment to support Columbia students, while also supporting Scholarship Columbia and offering internships to junior and senior marketing communication and journalism majors.

A representative the Neilsen Company was unable to attend the event for undisclosed reasons, according to Eric Winston, vice president of Institutional Advancement.

Overall, the luncheon was a successful event with a meaningful purpose, Winston said.

“[Columbia] got a chance to recognize some people that have been donating to the college and to show our appreciation for their support of students,” he said.