New scholarship offered to students in honor of Chip Hooper

By Kendall Polidori, Staff Reporter

As a photographer and music agent, the late, Chicago-raised Chip Hooper exemplified Columbia students’ interdisciplinary nature. Now, a $50,000 scholarship fund in Hooper’s name will award selected students in the School of Fine and Performing Arts each year as they prepare for a career in the arts.

Money for the scholarship was raised through donations from music executives at Paradigm Talent Agency—where Hooper worked—and its partner agency, Coda, in London, said Denise Melanson, director of social impact at Paradigm.

Known as the agency’s longtime head of music, Hooper represented more than 2,000 artists, including the Dave Matthews Band and Phish. Hooper, who died of cancer in 2016, was known for being passionate about two main things: music business and photography.

Melanson said the agency wanted to create the scholarship as a tribute to Hooper and to honor the work he did with it. She said the agency researched a number of colleges and universities in cities where Paradigm has offices—such as New York University, the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Southern California—to find the right fit for the scholarship.

But, Melanson said Paradigm kept circling back to Columbia because of what the college has to offer.

“[Chicago is] where Chip’s roots are. [The college] has a fantastic performing arts school, but [Columbia] also has a really great Music Business program and Photography [program]—two of Chip’s passions,” Melanson said.

She added that another reason Paradigm wanted to pick Columbia is because the agency has employees who graduated from the college.

This scholarship opportunity is available starting this Fall semester, and is open to students within the School of Fine and Performing Arts with majors including music business, photography, art and art history, dance, design, fashion studies, music and theatre, with preference given to music business majors.

Senior marketing major Angel Overton, who plans to graduate in December 2019, said she wishes she had the opportunity to apply for a scholarship like this one when she first started attending the college.

“It is really cool [the college] chose to keep [the scholarship] in the School of Fine and Performing Arts, since the person it is in memory of was really involved in that scene,” Overton said.

Rosita Sands, interim dean for the School of Fine and Performing Arts, said each student will be awarded up to $2,500, split between the Fall and Spring semesters.

The scholarship fund will continue to be offered at the college beyond the upcoming Fall 2019 semester. However, because it is an endowed scholarship, students will have to reapply each year.

Sands said it is an honor for the college to be chosen as the recipient of the award, and said she believes the college was chosen because of the variety of programs offered to students.

“Chip Hooper was an excellent talent agent and was very well respected … that is meaningful knowing that the person for whom the scholarship was named was such an incredible individual,” Sands said.

Overton said there is still room for scholarship expansion at the college, as many of the ones offered online are for specific majors; as a marketing major, she said there are not many options for her.

“It really encourages people studying art, because that can be kind of taboo nowadays,” Overton said. “A scholarship like this [motivates] people that are working in the arts.”

Correction 7/10/19: A previous version of this story included an incorrect scholarship amount. The Chronicle regrets this error. 

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