Fordham University Receives Endowment from Denzel Washington, and Guidance from Phylicia Rashad:
Acclaimed actor-director and Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) alum, Denzel Washington, recently bestowed a generous gift of $2.25 million to his alma mater’s Theater Department. Of the substantial gift, $2 million will create the Denzel Washington Chair in Theater position, to be inaugurated by veteran actress Phylicia Rashad. The remaining $250,000 will provide a scholarship for a student to attend the theater program at what is now known as Fordham University.
Both Washington and Rashad have had remarkable careers onstage and onscreen, paving the way for many African-American actors succeeding them. Washington’s introduction to acting happened while he was attending FCLC as a journalism major, having been captivated by student productions he attended. He since went on to received critical acclaim for numerous movie roles, two Oscar wins for Glory and Training Day, and five Academy award nominations. Rashad is best known for her role as Clair Huxtable on the long-running television series The Cosby Show. She has also had a substantial Broadway career, winning a TONY award in 2004 for her role as Lena Baker in A Raisin in the Sun.
Washington recalled the positive influence of the late Bob Stone, his former professor at FCLC, when certifying Rashad as the best fit for the Chair position. “He believed in me and gave me something to live up to,” Washington recalled. “I wanted to create the Denzel Washington Endowed Scholarship and Chair in Theatre at Fordham in order to offer the next generation of students positive influences. Phylicia Rashad, as the inaugural holder of the chair, will provide the care, compassion and that extra push to help take students where they’re meant to go.” While Rashad has already begun teaching at Fordham, the scholarship recipient is likely to be announced next fall.