February 17, 2016

Arts Management Student Denise McIver receives inaugural Black Scholars Award

Denise McIver, a Claremont Graduate University (CGU) arts management student, has been selected as the first recipient of the university’s Black Scholars Award. The award was created last year to provide financial assistance to students of Black African ancestry as they pursue their graduate degrees at CGU.

Denise McIver
Denise McIver

McIver was selected from nearly four-dozen applicants. The selection committee praised her “drive to create an atmosphere of inclusion in all that she does.”

“All of the applicants were well qualified, so the decision was tough,” said Calista Kelly, a PhD student in the School of Educational Studies who was instrumental in the creation of the award. “The committee felt that Denise’s unmatched passion for diverse work is illustrative of her commitment to promoting diversity across fields of study.”

McIver works for the California African American Museum as a research librarian, in addition to being a student. She hopes to use her award to travel to Paris and explore cultural heritage institutions in an urban setting.

McIver said she was honored to be chosen as the inaugural Black Scholars Award recipient, and she hopes the award will allow other students of color to think of CGU as an option for their graduate studies.

“This is a tremendous vote of confidence in my scholarly pursuits and practice as a museum professional,” McIver said. “I could not be more grateful. I could not be more thrilled. I hope this award will allow me to travel to Paris next year and study how cultural heritage institutions in that city are utilizing art to explore social justice issues. I thank all the members of the Black Scholars Award Selection Committee for this demonstration of support.”

Kelly worked to create the Black Scholars Award after discussions with some of her colleagues in the Black Graduate Student Association. They felt a need for additional support for minority students both to improve diversity on campus and to offset the burden of rising tuition costs.

Kelly drafted a fundraising proposal and mission statement. Then she met with CGU staff—from student services, advancement, and student life & diversity—for help. They assisted her with identifying possible donors and developing fundraising strategies.

Since its launch in the fall of 2014, more than $25,000 has been raised to endow the award. A significant amount came from husband and wife Matthew and Roberta Jenkins, longtime supporters of CGU.

Eric Ewing, senior director of development for Claremont Graduate University, praised Kelly for the dedication and passion she showed in creating the award, and he thanked financial supporters of the endowment for their generosity.

“The most inspiring thing about these types of endowments is that they are funded almost exclusively by former students. It’s really our alumni support that keeps us going,” he said.

Anyone interested in supporting the Black Scholars Award endowment can contact Ewing at eric.ewing@cgu.edu, or (909) 607-0275.