The Campaign for Chapman University

Chapman Celebrates 2023
The final Chapman Celebrates performances were held Feb. 10 and 11 at Musco Center for the Arts, the same weekend Inspire: the Campaign for Chapman University kicked off.

Curtain Down on Chapman Celebrates, Curtain Up on $500 Million Campaign

As the curtain came down on the annual Chapman Celebrates event for the final time, Chapman University announced a campaign to raise half a billion dollars for its students and campus.

The same weekend as the last Chapman Celebrates performances – Feb. 10 and 11 – Chapman President Daniele C. Struppa gave his annual State of the University address and unveiled Inspire: The Campaign for Chapman University, which aims to raise $500 million by 2028.

The campaign’s goals are to transform lives and communities, accelerate innovation and inspire excellence by supporting the ambitious goals of the university’s new strategic plan, “Our Path to Greatness.”

“This comprehensive campaign – ignited by the generosity of longtime supporters Jim and Kay Burra – will support the incredible ambitions of Chapman’s new strategic plan by supporting academic excellence,” said Jim Mazzo, who co-chairs the campaign with Lisa Argyros.

At the Feb. 11 Chapman Celebrates gala at Musco Center for the Arts, Struppa made a surprise announcement of the Burras’ $5 million transformative gift as part of the campaign – the first of a series of gifts lined up that will be announced over the coming months.

The Burras’ gift will create the Burra School of Accounting and Finance within Argyros School of Business and Economics, preparing the next generation of business leaders to take the helm in the rapidly changing fields of business and finance.

If that wasn’t reason enough to celebrate, Struppa also spoke to the impressive longevity and phenomenal fundraising success of Chapman Celebrates.

“First, we are celebrating the finale of an event that has brought together our Chapman Family in support of this institution for over 40 years, bringing in over $40 million for Chapman students,” he said.

Chapman’s signature fundraiser – originally called “An American Celebration” – has long featured Broadway-caliber singing, dancing and musical performances from College of Performing Arts students. On Feb. 10 and 11, the event met its $1.5 million fundraising goal.

More than 80% of Chapman students receive some form of financial support, which has flowed from sources like Chapman Celebrates. In particular, the Chapman Celebrates talent scholarship supports performing arts students. The event was sponsored by Hank Adler, the Schmid family and Donna Ford Attallah ’61.

On both nights of Chapman Celebrates, Struppa praised College of Performing Arts Dean Giulio Ongaro, “who raised the bar on this production over the years, making this event the incredible experience it has been.”

At Chapman Celebrates, attendees got a first look at the new Sandi Simon Center for Dance, which will officially open in March. Directed by Matt McCray, dancers were able to rehearse for the production in the new spaces.

Orange County philanthropists Sandi and Ron Simon gave $5 million to turn Villa Park Orchards Association Packing House into the dance center. The packinghouse, which was built around 1918, was adapted into about 33,000 square feet of space for Chapman’s renowned dance program.

Struppa also recognized the co-chairs of the 2022 Chapman Celebrates, Melinda Masson and Casey Kasprzyk ’01.

“They put a great deal of time and effort into planning before the heartbreaking news of it being canceled [because of the pandemic],” he said.

Because this year’s event was the first in-person show since 2019, student performers showcased their triple-threat talents in their first and last Chapman Celebrates. 

Performers dazzled with Broadway-quality versions of “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from “Hairspray,” as well as “Dancing in the Street” and “Holding Out for a Hero.” As could only happen at Chapman, the production included Chapman scenes and backdrops and a dance cameo from President Emeritus Jim Doti.

“As you’ve seen throughout the show, we’ve had many friends help us along the way,” Struppa said. “Those in the videos we just saw, so many of you who are here tonight, those who couldn’t make it … and many who are no longer with us but never forgotten. You have all provided inspiration and life-changing support to countless Chapman students.”

Joy Juedes

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