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Ventura College Honors Benefactor Miriam Schwab Posthumously With 12-Foot Bronze Sculpture on Campus
The sculpture was created by Ventura artist Michael O'Kelly.
The sculpture was created by Ventura artist Michael O'Kelly. It features a music stand which represents academic learning, while a dancer symbolizes stepping out into the world after students receive their education at Ventura College. The dancer is holding a violin acknowledging Schwab's passion for music. Schwab played the violin in the Ventura College Symphony Orchestra for over 15 years.
Schwab passed away in 2017 at age 89. In 2018, Ventura College Foundation, which provides financial support to students and programs of Ventura College, received $12 million from Schwab's estate. It is the largest gift ever to a community college in Southern California according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy Gift Database.
Eighty-five percent of Schwab's gift goes to the Ventura College Instrumental Music Program including funding for a permanent violin and viola competition, a sustainable year-round symphony orchestra and the creation of the Miriam and Henry Schwab Academy of Music. The first summer session took place in 2019.
"Miriam's generous support of the Ventura College Instrumental Music Program will impact music students for generations to come," says Rob Van Nieuwburg, Ventura College Foundation board chair. "While schools are cutting music from their curriculum, Ventura College is enhancing its program, making it one of the premiere community colleges for music education in all of California."
In November, the Network of California Community College Foundations (NCCCF) honored Schwab with the 2019 Bernard Osher Philanthropist of the Year award during a luncheon in Riverside at the Community College League of California Annual Convention.
Accepting the NCCCF award on Schwab's behalf was Dr. Kimberly Hoffmans, Ventura College president and Anne Paul King, Ventura College Foundation executive director. A short video about Schwab, narrated by Robert Lawson, Ventura College Performing Arts Department chair, was shown at the luncheon.
"Miriam was a behind the scenes type of person who was always trying to make things happen," says Lawson who worked with Schwab for years. "She was a strong believer in the community college system and particularly Ventura College. The gift she bestowed to the college after her passing is changing the artistic culture of the college and the community."
The remaining portion of Schwab's gift supports the Ventura College Aquatics Program, primarily in the form of transfer scholarships. Schwab was a dedicated swimmer and was often seen swimming in the college pool.
For more about the Ventura College Foundation, go to www.VenturaCollegeFoundation.org , or call 805-289-6461.