UCI dance students perform in “Crossing the Rubicon: Passing the Point of No Return,” a piece by the legendary choreographer Donald McKayle, as part of Dance Visions 2017. Photo: Rose Eichenbaum

Elaine Koshimizu Endowed Scholarship
for Inclusive Excellence in Dance

Elaine Koshimizu Endowed Scholarship for Inclusive Excellence in Dance

The Department of Dance at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts ranks third in California and 10th in the U.S. Despite being nationally acclaimed, each year the department competes with other top dance programs to recruit high-achieving and underrepresented students in dance. Students often select schools that are able to provide generous artistic merit scholarships. Now, a new gift is poised to change this dynamic, better positioning CTSA to make offers more competitive with well-funded private universities, and transforming the way the dance department recruits students from diverse backgrounds.

The Elaine Koshimizu Endowed Scholarship for Inclusive Excellence in Dance will provide competitive, merit-based scholarships to help recruit students who are underrepresented in the department. The scholarship was established with a $515,000 gift from the estate of dance alumna Elaine Koshimizu, and through the Brilliant Future Scholarship Match Opportunity, UCI will match the endowment distributions in perpetuity, effectively doubling its value to over $1 million.

“This is an amazing situation, not only to have this wonderful endowment, but for the university to match it,” says Molly Lynch, professor and chair of dance. “This provides a substantial pool of funding for scholarships that can make a significant difference for a student who chooses to come to UCI and major in dance.”

Professor Molly Lynch teaches a ballet class in one of the original dance studios on the Claire Trevor School of the Arts campus. Photo: Skye Schmidt

Part of the UCI Brilliant Future campaign, the scholarship match program reflects the university’s commitment to being a national leader in inclusive excellence. UCI is federally designated as both a Hispanic-serving institution and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution, and more than 11,500 UCI students received federal Pell grants based on financial need last year. Many UCI students are the first in their family to attend college, and national rankings by Forbes and The New York Times have repeatedly named UCI among the best universities providing upward mobility for graduates.

“This generous gift will ensure that UCI continues to be a destination for exceptionally talented students — today and tomorrow — to become transformational leaders in the arts. In other words, to enrich and extend the enduring legacy of Elaine Koshimizu,” said Doug Haynes, vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion.

Koshimizu, who danced at UCI from 1991 to 1996, reached out to CTSA development director Sarah Strozza at the beginning of 2020 to discuss making a bequest that would support future generations of UCI undergraduates, while also establishing a personal legacy. She decided to create an endowment, a type of gift in which the principle remains untouched, but the interest earned each year is spent — in this case, about $45,000 annually, including the university match, will go toward scholarships.

Scholarship support relieves financial burdens for students, allowing them to focus on their studies instead of working part-time jobs, and freeing up time to participate in programs such as exhibitions and performances that set them up for career success.

“Students are at the center of UCI’s mission. Gifts like Elaine’s not only enable the Claire Trevor School of the Arts to recruit and retain students amid a competitive landscape, but also help to offset the unique costs of an arts education and prepare students for successful professional pathways in the arts,” says Strozza.

Recipients of other merit-based scholarships in the dance department can attest to the difference they make. Third-year dance major Zachary Medina says the William J. Gillespie Foundation Scholarship he received “allows me to focus on school and creative work without worrying about how I will be able to pay for school.”

“We are incredibly touched by Elaine’s generosity, and look forward to seeing her gift lift up future generations of dancers. She’s created a meaningful and lasting legacy in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts’ dance department.”

- Molly Lynch, Professor and Chair of Dance

“I hope in the future that I too will be able to financially support students so they can reach goals in higher education,” he says.

Koshimizu passed away at the age of 56 in August of 2020, which means her gift will begin impacting UCI students as soon as this year.

“We are incredibly touched by Elaine’s generosity, and look forward to seeing her gift lift up future generations of dancers,” says Lynch. “She’s created a meaningful and lasting legacy in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts’ dance department.”

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