LONG BEACH, CA – Before a crowd of music students and their supporters, California State University, Long Beach officials today announced the largest donation in university history: a $16.4 million gift from the Bob Cole Trust to provide scholarships for student musicians. In recognition of the generosity of the donation, CSULB will seek the permanent naming of the Department of Music as the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at next week's meeting of the California State University Board of Trustees.
"In establishing the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, we are doing more than recognizing a man for his extraordinary generosity to our university," President F. King Alexander said. "The conservatory will forever honor a Long Beach businessman who looked to the promising futures of students at our university, and wanted to help them succeed."
Bob Cole, who died in 2004, was a successful Long Beach real estate entrepreneur for more than 35 years, and the founder of Bob Cole Realty. His innovative thinking led to the development of a lucrative method for trading real estate tax free, and helped propel him to the forefront of the area's real estate industry. When Mr. Cole was away from the office, playing piano to entertain his family and friends was a lifelong favorite pastime. It was that passion for music that led him to the CSULB College of the Arts and its Department of Music.
The College of the Arts (COTA) at California State University, Long Beach is the largest and most comprehensive publicly-funded school for the arts in the West, with more than 4,200 graduate and undergraduate majors. It includes the Departments of Art, Dance, Design, Film and Electronic Arts, Music, and Theatre Arts, as well as the University Art Museum, the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, the Center for First Amendment Studies, and the California Institute for the Preservation of Jazz.
"The establishment of the Cole Conservatory at Cal State Long Beach will attract the finest students to what is already one of the most respected programs in the country," said Donald Para, Dean of the College of the Arts. "Bob Cole specifically wanted to ensure an excellent education to the most talented music students, regardless of financial capability. This gift will allow that. We are proud and honored to have been chosen to serve that goal on his behalf."
Currently, the CSULB Department of Music offers a "real world" education, combining practical and theoretical experiences in Music Performance, Music Education, Music History, and Music Composition and Theory. It is a well-rounded and comprehensive program, with a proven history of excellence and recognition. The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music will continue and expand that tradition. The virtuosity of CSULB music students is already celebrated regularly on a national level: the CSULB Chamber Choir recently made its Carnegie Hall Debut, Pacific Standard Time – CSULB's premiere vocal jazz ensemble – received a prestigious invitation to perform at the International Association of Jazz Educators in Toronto, and the CSULB Concert Jazz Orchestra won the Next Generation Jazz Competition at the University Level, earning a performance spot at the legendary Monterey Jazz Festival.
The Cole Conservatory evolves from a Music Department with a long tradition of exceptional training for students from all backgrounds, and will now be positioned to further expand those musical and educational opportunities. Part of the mission of the Cole Conservatory will be an increased emphasis on targeted recruitment, identifying those musically-talented, but not college-focused students for whom higher education was not ever considered a possibility. With full-tuition, four-year scholarships available, many young musicians will now have the chance to realize their dreams and fundamentally alter their futures.
John Carnahan, who has served as chair of the Music Department for the past 8 years, has been named the first Director of the Cole Conservatory, effective immediately. "I look forward to the increased exposure and the increased opportunities the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music makes possible for our current and future students," Carnahan said. "The expanding resources of the Cole Conservatory will allow for growth in touring, recruitment, outreach, and cultural exchanges – already an integral part of the music education offered at Cal State Long Beach."
Tours throughout California and the nation will aid in recruitment, and in identifying worthy young students who deserve a chance to be a student at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music. Partnerships with the Long Beach Unified School District will be strengthened, enabling the Cole Conservatory to ensure worthy students in our own "backyard" are identified. International tours will be made more affordable for Conservatory students, through the availability of travel and performance scholarships.
Additionally, the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music is expected to become a magnet for nationally and internationally recognized master musicians and educators, increasing the quality of musical experiences for all Cole Conservatory students and the surrounding communities.
The Bob Cole Conservatory begins its existence already positioned at the forefront of music education programs in the western United States. Within five years, we believe it will be among the best and most comprehensive undergraduate music programs in the nation.