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Thursday, August 11, 2022

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The Neave Trio, from left, pianist Toni James, violinist Anna Williams, cellist Mikhail Veselov. The Neave Trio, from left, pianist Toni James, violinist Anna Williams, cellist Mikhail Veselov.

The Campaign for ... Anna

Donor support is changing the lives of SDSU students.
By Coleen L. Geraghty

465 million is a big number, and at San Diego State, it signifies the ongoing success of The Campaign for SDSU.

From a big-picture perspective, the $465 million of campaign funds raised so far has accelerated SDSU’s development as a leading public research university.

It has supported new faculty hires, new learning spaces, new lab equipment and a host of programs designed for student success. That’s the wide-angle view.

Changing lives

It takes a slightly longer lens to see the impact of fundraising on individual SDSU students — to see how The Campaign for SDSU is also a campaign for each of the thousands of students whose lives have been changed by donor support.

Josh Morse, president of Associated Students, was homeless for part of his young life. He qualified for SDSU’s Guardian Scholars program, which provides full tuition and year-round room and board for academically prepared students exiting the foster care system.

Applied mathematics major Tessa Young received a University Honors Program scholarship to study abroad in China during summer 2013. She said the experience gave her an appreciation of both the similarities and differences between American and Chinese culture.
Anna Williams

Sense of home

Music student Anna Williams would not be part of the SDSU community without donor support. A member of the Neave Trio, one of two SDSU ensembles-in-residence, Williams has received several scholarships, including the Joseph Fisch/Joyce Axelrod Student Artist Award.

“This is a very unique opportunity for a piano trio,” Williams said. “I feel very fortunate to have a sense of home here at SDSU, in such a welcoming and supportive community.”

The Neave Trio — which includes cellist Mikhail Veselov and pianist Toni James — joins a lineage of SDSU ensembles-in-residence supported by the Fisch/Axelrod gifts to the School of Music and Dance. Ensembles-in-resident rehearse with the SDSU orchestra, coach music students and act as ambassadors for SDSU in the community and while touring nationally.

A web of talent

Gifts to support one or more creative artists effectively support and elevate the entire School of Music and Dance, said Donna Conaty, associate dean of SDSU’s College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts.

“Both music and dance are inherently collaborative disciplines,” Conaty said. “The quality of each student directly impacts the educational experience of every other student. So, if we cannot offer scholarships to attract talent in specific areas, other students are not able to experience performing at the level of quality or scope of repertoire they will need to be competitive in their careers.

“Scholarship support has enabled our choirs, bands, orchestras and jazz ensembles to be featured in increasing levels of visibility—which in turn attracts better students and faculty, and enhances the overall educational experience for all.”

Thanks to Conrad Prebys’ $20 million gift for scholarships, the ripple effect Conaty describes will touch even greater numbers of students.


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