Woodruff Endowment Attracts World-Class Musicians to CSU

As workers laid the foundation for Columbus' RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, others were working to ensure that the most talented and gifted students in the world would be recruited to Columbus State University to study and perform in the world class facility.

Both plans have worked. The RiverCenter is one of the premiere performing arts centers in North America. And, one of its anchors, the Schwob School of Music is establishing itself as one of the premiere music schools in the nation. One factor for the success has been the innovative Woodruff Award program that has attracted top-tier students from around the world who, because of their talent, could study anywhere in the world.

In establishing the award program in December 1999, the visionary trustees of the Woodruff Family Foundation desired to provide an unprecedented award program that would give the Schwob School of Music a true competitive advantage in recruiting the very top music students from throughout the world. Each recipient of the award is required to have earned a full scholarship (tuition, housing and meal allowance) from the university's general music scholarship fund. The Woodruff Award provides a $5,000 annual stipend in addition to the scholarship. Intended for entering undergraduates, the award is renewable up to four years, provided the recipient demonstrates and achieves the desired level of excellence set forth by the selection committee.

Since its inception, the Woodruff Award has brought seven talented musicians to CSU. In fall 2003, a pianist from Shenyang, China and a flutist from Cumming, Ga. entered the Schwob School of Music as the most recent Woodruff Award scholars.

Anne-Wei Jiao, a pianist since age 5, arrives from the Shenyang Conservatory where she completed a six-year Chinese music curriculum in five years. During that time she studied the formidable Rachmaninov Concerto No. 2 and earned prestigious selection for several solo appearances.

Kaelah Williams, who graduated North Forsyth High School in Cumming with All-State honors from the Georgia Music Educators Association, has studied with several professional flutists including members of the Atlanta Symphony.

The other current Woodruff scholars are Melissa Brown (oboe), of Hartsville, Ga. and Millard F. Andrews III (guitar) of Montgomery, Ala. Three other students have studied at CSU under the Woodruff Award Program. They include Jessica Schiffman (viola), of Atlanta; Edmundo Montoya (trombone) of Midland, Texas and Ariana Arcu (cello) of Bucharest, Romania.

Schwob School of Music Professor and Interim Director Ronald Wirt said the Woodruff Award's designation for undergraduate students is especially significant. 'This award is quite unusual, anywhere,on the undergraduate level. With this program, we are attracting students who could choose to attend any top music program in the country. As these students collaborate with our other gifted students, it brings out the best in everyone. We expect to attract increased attention nationally and internationally with this award.'

The Woodruff Award Program was conceived and developed by Otis Scarborough, president & CEO of the Woodruff Holding Company. Scarborough, a past chair of the CSU Foundation Board of Trustees and CSU Patrons of Music Society, has been a long-time champion of elevating the Schwob School of Music to a level of international stature. Mr. Scarborough said, 'The Woodruff Award Program is another prime example of generous people in this community rallying to support the cultural development of our city and region. We now have in place a world class facility and an award program that will enable us to recruit the most talented young musicians in the world to Columbus. It is my hope that others in the community will come forward to establish endowed music faculty positions that will provide the resources to continually attract a world class faculty.'

George C. Woodruff Jr., concurring with Scarborough, said, 'The Woodruff Awards provide another important element in the vision to elevate the Schwob School of Music to a level of preeminence, not just among its regional peers, but as one of the leading music schools in the nation. It gives me great satisfaction to know that we are doing something completely unique in terms of recruiting music students.'

Those who have contributed, along with the Woodruff Family Foundation, to the Woodruff Award Endowment include:

* Mr. and Mrs. Thomas B. Black
* Mr. and Mrs. James H. Blanchard
* Mr. and Mrs. Stephen T. Butler
* Mr. and Mrs. David G. Lewis, Jr.
* Mr. and Mrs. Richard M. Olnick
* Mr. and Mrs. Otis J. Scarborough
* Dr. and Mrs. John I. Waldrop
* Mr. and Mrs. George C. Woodruff, Jr.
* The J.W. and Ethel I. Woodruff Foundation
* Mr. and Mrs. James D. Yancey

The Woodruff Award Endowment is part of CSU's 'Investment in People' capital campaign that seeks to raise $80 million to establish a learning environment more advanced than at any institution of similar size. CSU has logged more than $69 million - $59 million in gifts and pledges that will be received over the next five years and $10 million in deferred gifts, such as wills.

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Contact; Rex Whiddon, (706) 568-5185; E-mail: whiddon_rex@ColumbusState.edu