UAB has received a gift of $5 million from Jane Stephens Comer, to be used in partnership with the Alys Stephens Center, for a cultural arts education program for Birmingham-area children in pre-school through high school.
The announcement was made today by UAB President Carol Z. Garrison at the joint University Day luncheon of the UAB National Alumni Society and the UAB Leadership Cabinet at The Club atop Red Mountain.
"A few years ago Jane shared with us her life dream to create a place that would give children the opportunity to encounter all genres of visual and performing arts in an innovative environment; a unique center for the arts where children and young people would have the opportunity to create performances, attend programs by world-class performing artists and forge collaborative relationships with UAB, the Alys Stephens Center, and other organizations in the community in all arts genres," Garrison said.
"After much research and planning, we are delighted to announce that Jane's passion for the arts, and her understanding of the profound impact the arts have on children, are coming together to create exactly what she dreamed of-a cultural arts education center for children-with this extraordinarily generous gift, for which we are so grateful."
Some program events are slated to occur next summer, and the full program will launch in September 2010.
Comer was instrumental in founding the ASC Kids' Club Series, an annual series designed to entertain, educate and inspire children through the performing arts. Additionally, she has been a supporter of the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Alabama Ballet, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and the Women's Fund of Greater Birmingham.
"The Alys Stephens Center has been one of the highlights of my life, and the joy that the Kids' Club Series has given to me led us to this endeavor," Comer said. "It's very exciting, and it promises to be very original."
At today's luncheon, Comer received the Honorary Life Member Award from the UAB National Alumni Society, bestowed upon those individuals whose contributions to UAB have benefitted the entire University community. She dedicated it to the memory of her mother, the late Alys Robinson Stephens, for whom the Alys Stephens Center is named.