Chancellor Brian Cole honored as a “Posse Star” by The Posse Foundation

UNCSA Chancellor Brian Cole was recently honored by The Posse Foundation at “Posse’s Annual Gala – An Evening of Stars” in New York City.

Joining Chancellor Cole as Posse Star Award honorees this year were Pulitzer Prize, Grammy, Emmy and Tony award-winning songwriter, actor, director and producer Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”) and political strategist and philanthropist Luis A. Miranda, Jr.; Ravi S. Rajan, president of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts); and Ilona Bannister, a Vanderbilt University Posse alumna and author. The emcee for the event was “60 Minutes” and CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl, who serves on The Posse Foundation National Board of Advisors.

Chancellor Brian Cole on stage at "An Evening of Stars," the annual Posse Foundation Gala

Chancellor Brian Cole receives a Posse Star on stage during "An Evening of Stars," the annual Posse Foundation Gala.

Founded in 1989, the Posse Program was inspired by a student who said, “I never would have dropped out of college if I’d had my posse with me.” Posse has been recognized as one of the most comprehensive college success and leadership development initiatives in the country. The Posse Arts initiative is an expansion of the nationwide Posse Scholars program that helps recruit, train and support talented students who might be missed through traditional avenues. Many Posse Scholars are often the first in their families to attend college or come from historically underrepresented communities. These students arrive in a cohort of peers — an “Arts Posse” — and receive full-tuition scholarships from partner institutions, on-campus mentoring, and other support services.

UNCSA was the third school — and the first conservatory — to join Posse Arts.

“The power of the arts is pretty unquestionable,” Chancellor Cole said. “The impact that it has on society, in our world. I mean, it’s what makes life worth living.”

Chancellor Brian Cole with Drama student and Posse Scholar Devin Gibbs

Chancellor Brian Cole with Drama student and Posse Scholar Devin Gibbs

This year’s gala was focused on spotlighting the newest initiatives, Posse Arts and Posse Puerto Rico.

“Shout out to CalArts, and Bard (College), and UNCSA, who have just shown incredible vision in partnering with us on these arts ‘posses,’” said honoree Lin-Manuel Miranda. “They’ve really led the way in terms of saying, ‘This is important for our school, and this will have ripple effects that will enrich our school immeasurably.’”

Henry Ellenbogen, chair of the National Board of Directors, said: “We have to recognize the three schools that have launched this with Posse. They have brought their scholarship, they have brought faculty mentorship, and they have helped us pilot.”

Chancellor Brian Cole

Chancellor Brian Cole

Posse President and Founder Deborah Bial, a 2007 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship winner, said: “When I think about what Ravi Rajan and Brian Cole have done for this incredible new initiative at Posse, I could not be more thrilled and thankful for them. We need places for people to be creative, we need to give young people space to think outside the box, to think in ways that will revolutionize the way we know the arts.”

Each year, The Posse Foundation identifies honorees who exhibit leadership, who make a significant contribution in the field of education, and who positively affect people’s lives. They are leaders in their respective fields, presidents and chancellors of Posse partner colleges and universities, and Posse alumni.

At the gala, Chancellor Cole was accompanied by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Patrick J. Sims, who is providing leadership for the Posse initiative at UNCSA. Cole was presented with his honor by UNCSA Posse Arts Scholar Devin T. Gibbs, as well as Posse Arts Scholars from CalArts and Bard.

Chancellor Brian Cole, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Patrick J. Sims and CalArts President Ravi Rajan

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Patrick J. Sims, Chancellor Brian Cole and CalArts President Ravi Rajan

“My career in the arts, before going into administration, was as a conductor, particularly orchestral conducting,” Cole said. “The role of conductor is leading, and is shaping what’s happening. But there’s an aspect also (when) you’re not doing anything. You’re not making a sound. None of the music happens without the other members of the orchestra. The teamwork aspect of it is not just important to me, it’s critical.

“Seeing the work that our students do … and seeing their successes, and seeing the impact that that work has, that means everything,” Cole concluded.

UNCSA welcomed its first cohort of six Arts Posse Scholars in 2022 and its second cohort of nine students will join this fall. Earlier this year, UNCSA received a pledge of $2.28 million that will support a substantial expansion of its Posse Arts Program from the Chapel Hill-based William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust.

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June 07, 2023