Tony and Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington has donated over $2 million to endow Fordham University with a new scholarship for undergraduate theatre majors, as well as a ‘Chair in Theatre’ position, which will be inaugurated by Tony Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad (formerly Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show).
Denzel, who graduated from Fordham in 1977, said in a statement, “I wanted to create the Denzel Washington Endowed Scholarship and Chair in Theatre at Fordham in order to offer the next generation of students positive influences. Phylicia Rashad, as the inaugural holder of the chair, will provide the care, compassion and that extra push to help take students where they’re meant to go.”
The $2 million endowment will go towards the salary for the rotating ‘chair in theatre’ position, which will welcome various theatre professionals, according to the New York Times. Phylicia Rashad (‘A Raisin in the Sun,’ ‘Gem of the Ocean’) has already begun teaching the acting course “Creating a Character” for Fordham students.
A $250,000 gift will also go toward the establishment of the Denzel Washington Endowed Scholarship, which is intended to support minority undergraduates studying theatre at the university. It is also the hope that it will be presented to a graduate from the Mount Vernon, NY, school district, where Washington was raised.
The university is aiming to announce the first scholarship recipient in fall 2012.