Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, joined with Hays developer Chuck Comeau this morning to announce the new Liberty Group Performing Arts Scholarship, a four-year, full-tuition scholarship that goes beyond the classroom to provide unique opportunities for the recipient to share his or her musical talent with the community of Hays.
Hammond said the new scholarship, in the amount of $5,000 annually, would be available to an incoming freshman pianist. During the course of their studies at FHSU, recipients of the Liberty Group Scholarship will play in numerous downtown venues, allowing them to gain professional experience and earn an income.
"Chuck Comeau is an innovative entrepreneur who has sparked the revival of downtown Hays," President Hammond said. "So, it's not surprising that he was willing to step forward and create this opportunity that will benefit our students while also making downtown Hays an even more enjoyable place to be."
The scholarship is funded on behalf of its namesake, Liberty Group, Inc., of Plainville. Liberty Group, founded by Comeau, is the primary developer for the Chestnut Street District in downtown Hays and is known for the developments housing several downtown businesses, including C.S. Post & Co., Simply Charmed, Salon Ten-O-Seven, Eli’s Room, Semolino Coffee & Eatery, Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing Co.
"I'd like to thank Assistant Professor of Music Brad Dawson for helping to expand the performing arts in the downtown," Comeau said. "We are honored to be able to provide this service for the university and look forward to a strong future of collaboration between FHSU and the Chestnut Street District."
Dawson collaborated with Liberty Group to create the scholarship. He is a member of the FHSU faculty and plays regularly with student musicians at Gella’s Diner & Lb. Brewing Co., located at 117 E. 11th Street.
"Students sometimes take for granted the opportunities available at FHSU," Dawson said. "I often bring prospective students to our sessions at Gella's Diner and they are amazed. It's a great recruiting tool for our musical studies program."
Live music, the district's renowned galleries, its unique shopping boutiques and restaurants combine to create what Comeau refers to as Hays' "E" Street, the "E" representing eating, entertainment and entrepreneurship. "This is what we've been working towards these past seven years, to create an environment unequaled along the Denver-Kansas City corridor in which the arts can flourish and the community can enjoy on a regular basis without reservation," explained Comeau.
A scholarship recipient will be selected for the 2006-2007 academic year. For more information on the scholarship, contact Dawson at (785) 628-4486.