Friars Club “Adopts” Fordham Scholars

Performing Arts Students Benefit From Relationship

By Ashley Tedesco
Contributing Writer
Published: October 25, 2007

FCLC—Five Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) students were awarded scholarships for the current academic year from the legendary entertainment group, the Friars Club. Rob Parry, FCLC ’08, John DeLuca, FCLC ’08, and Katie Schneller, FCLC ’09, all of whom are theater majors, and Michael McBride, FCLC ’10 and Charity De Loera, FCLC ’08, both dance majors, were the first recipients of scholarships from the  Friars Club’s “Adopt a Scholar” program.

“This is the beginning,” said the Rev. Robert R. Grimes, S.J., dean of FCLC. Fordham hopes to have an ongoing relationship with the Friars, whose scholarships of $3,000 per year will follow recipients through their four years at Fordham and then be granted to underclassmen as the scholars graduate, he noted.

One of the stated goals of this program is to “give opportunities to many students…who can now seize opportunities not usually offered to them,” according to the Friars Club bulletin, which announced the program.

“It gave me the opportunity to take off from work and do more shows,” Schneller said. “It made a big difference for my artistic career.”

Parry echoed that sentiment. “The Friars are helping me to graduate,” he said.

The program is not only good news for the students who were selected, but also for Fordham as a whole. “The Friars have given Fordham Theatre and Dance students the first artistic merit scholarships that Fordham students have ever received. I see it as a turning point,” said Matthew Maguire, associate professor of theater. “The development of Artistic Merit Scholarships has been a priority of Dean Grimes in his strategic initiative planning, and this is the beginning of the planning coming to fruition.”

The Friars Club, a “legendary social club for people in entertainment,” Grimes said, is best known for its annual “roast,” a gathering in honor of a comedian, in which he or she is both celebrated and teased. The “Adopt a Scholar” program was founded this year and, with the help of 37 Friars, has given out 50 scholarships to five schools in Manhattan: Fordham, Barnard College, Hunter College, Pace University and New York University.

The Friars Club offered these scholarships to liberal arts universities that have performing arts concentrations. The Friars did not go to conservatories to offer these scholarships, Grimes said. He added that encouraging theatrical and dance performers from universities can help to create a better-rounded performer.

“I think they would like to follow us throughout our careers in the hopes that one day we will become members of the Friars Club,” Schneller said. Indeed, the bulletin boasts, “the students have shown their appreciation through hard work and study and have become productive assets to the entertainment community.”

“There is nothing more inspiring than early recognition,”  Maguire said. “This is true for Fordham and the students who earned the scholarships.”

According to Maguire, the scholarship recipients were chosen at the discretion of faculty members within the performing arts departments, following a vote of the full faculty. After being notified, the students were invited to a banquet at the Friars Club in their honor.

The festivities were “awesome,” Schneller said. “They toasted us, mingled with us, and met who they see as future members of their group. It was cool—they treated us like celebrities.”

These “celebrities” have aspirations like “opening theaters and venues with the expressed intent of producing and developing new American theatrical work,” said Parry, who sees himself making a career of this in the next five to ten years.

Fordham and the other schools taking part in this initiative are matching the donations of the Friars Club to supplement the students’ scholarships, “making the Adopt-a-Scholar program a win-win for everyone involved—most of all the scholars themselves,” said the Club bulletin.

Parry agreed, saying, “I think [this program] is great and I hope it continues to offer opportunities to people in the arts.”

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