Anonymous donor endows theatre scholarship at Northwestern; Matching challenge issued

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Anonymous donor endows theatre scholarship at Northwestern; Matching challenge issued

NWOSU Foundation Release

January 21, 2010

An anonymous donor has contributed $50,000 to the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Foundation to establish the Linda J. Stewart and Kimberly K. Weast Theatre Scholar Award and is issuing a challenge for the gift to be matched.

“I wanted to honor Dr. Linda Stewart and Ms. Kimberly Weast for their combined 45 years of dedication to Northwestern Oklahoma State University and the theatre program,” the donor said.

In addition to the desire to honor Stewart and Weast, the donor, who enjoys theatre, saw a need in the theatre department. The donor invites former students of Stewart and Weast and theatre patrons to match the gift to build the endowment.

“There was a need for scholarship aid to attract additional students to the theatre program,” the donor said.

Until 2009, there were no scholarships specifically benefitting the theatre program. Now, The Theatre Scholar Award brings the total number of endowed scholarships aiding speech and theatre students to four.

“I am excited to see more and more of our departments receiving scholarship support from their patrons and alums,” said Skeeter Bird, Northwestern Foundation CEO. “Recruiting and retaining many top quality students helps assure a great program like our theatre program will continue to flourish during a difficult time of state budget reductions.”

A competitive award, the scholarship recognizes student achievement as well as the achievements of Stewart and Weast, the donor said.

To be considered for the scholarship, students must attend Northwestern full time and participate in theatre courses and productions. Incoming freshmen, transfers and continuing students are eligible for the award, and applicants must have a 2.5 cumulative high school GPA or higher and at least a 19 ACT score.

In addition, candidates must meet university admission standards and submit one or more letters of recommendation from previous directors or teachers, as well as a six- or seven-semester high school transcript. The Northwestern Fine Arts Department will select a deserving recipient, and the award may be applied toward university-related expenses, such as tuition, fees, room, board and books.

“I’m humbled and honored by the establishment of this scholarship,” Weast said. “I’m very grateful to our donor for the investment in the future of our students and theatre at NWOSU.”

Weast, originally from Weatherford, Okla., received her bachelor’s degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, graduated from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, with a master’s degree in communications arts in theatrical performance and television production, and earned a master’s of fine arts in theatrical directing from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.

She currently serves as associate professor of theatre and managing/technical director of Herod Hall Auditorium at Northwestern. Weast brings more than 19 years of experience as an instructor in communication-related courses and theater to the classroom and stage. Her previous experience includes positions as chair of the Hannibal LaGrange College Communication Arts Department in Hannibal, Mo., and head of the mass communication program at Dallas Baptist University in Dallas, Texas.

Stewart, a former professor of speech and head of the drama program, dedicated 35 years to teaching at Northwestern. She grew up in Hazelton, Kan., and attended Friends University in Kansas before transferring to Northwestern, where she graduated in 1962 with a double major in speech education and English.

She taught high school English and debate at Medicine Lodge, Kan., prior to returning to Northwestern in 1963 to receive her master’s degree and certification in guidance and counseling. She was accepted into the doctorate of higher education program at Oklahoma State University after a few more years of teaching, and in 1967, Stewart eagerly accepted the opportunity to teach speech at Northwestern. After retiring in 2002, Stewart moved to Arlington, Texas.

Those interested in the possibility of adding additional funds to match this gift or creating a scholarship of their own are encouraged to contact Bird at the Northwestern Foundation, 709 Oklahoma Blvd., Alva, OK 73717, by phone at 580-327-8593 or by visiting http://www.nwfoundation.com.

-NWF-