Eliza P. Culverhouse Support Dance Graduate Students With $250,000 Gift

Eliza Culverhouse and dance students on stage
Eliza P. Culverhouse was recognized for her support of the dance program at Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre’s performance in February 2019.

From the September 2021 Desktop News | Eliza Culverhouse has continued her support of UA’s students and the advancement of the arts with a $250,000 contribution to the College’s Department of Theatre and Dance. This gift, which created the Eliza P. Culverhouse Graduate Support Fund in Dance, will support graduate students in the dance Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program in furthering their craft.

“The University of Alabama Department of Theatre and Dance continues to offer a diverse selection of courses to augment the wide range of our students’ talents, and Eliza’s gifts to support dance education and enhance performance opportunities will further amplify the program’s mission,” said UA President Stuart R. Bell. “The recipients of her philanthropy will be known as Eliza P. Culverhouse Artist Scholars, extending Eliza’s legacy as a strong supporter of gifted graduate students who have been recognized for their talent and potential. We are appreciative of her generosity and passion for our fine arts programs at the Capstone.”

The dance MFA program began in fall 2020. Over the course of three years, students in the program complete 60 credit hours in a variety of studio-based and dance studies courses.

“The program will support the development of diverse skills in classical and contemporary dance techniques, dance pedagogy, historical perspectives and critical theory, as well as technical and artistic integration of dance-specific technologies,” said Sarah Barry, professor of dance and chair of the department. “Students will also complete and present a substantial MFA Capstone project demonstrating a synthesis of craft, artistic vision, and conceptual rigor, as well as professional competence in the selected research area.”

“Tuition is the single largest impediment to participation in graduate school and particularly in the creative arts,” said Dr. Joseph Messina, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “It offers the students the opportunity to pursue creative professional careers without the burden of immediate student loan payments.”

Culverhouse’s most recent gift is just one example of the positive impact she has made on the dance program. Prior to this gift, she established the Eliza P. Culverhouse Fund for Excellence in Dance, which has grown to more than $500,000 in support for the department. This fund allows for the recruiting and funding of guest artists who offer a new perspective or skill to dance students, as well as financial support for priority needs such as costumes, equipment and other student support.

“The ability to support UA’s dance program is something that I cherish,” said Culverhouse. “It is my dream that students be able to pursue their goal and graduate from this program to become the leaders of the next generation of dancers. If my support can aid them in finding their own style and their own voice, I will be proud.”

“We are so grateful for Eliza’s continued support of the dance program here at UA,” said Barry. “This gift will help to ensure the growth of our new MFA Dance Program and allow us to continue to attract the best and brightest to UA. Her support helps us to train and nurture more students in the art of dance, who in turn go out to share their love and appreciation of dance within their communities in diverse ways.”