Ringling College Film Department Chair Bradley Battersby happened to mention to Michael and Marcy Klein that one of his students couldn’t afford the tuition and had to leave the College. The story so affected the Kleins that they were inspired to start a unique scholarship endowment to address the problem. Their idea was to create a named endowment fund large enough to provide a full-tuition, four-year scholarship to a student who otherwise would not be able to attend Ringling College. The Kleins were the first to donate to this new program called “The Masterpiece Scholarship” and became the first members of the group they hoped to form called “The Masterpiece Society.”
With the Kleins’ own philanthropy, they wanted to create the Society to encourage others to follow their example. It is their hope that additional members of the community will become Masterpiece Society members so more students with substantial financial need can realize their dream of attending Ringling College.
The Kleins became involved with the College a few years after they moved from Michigan to Sarasota. Trustee Lois Stulberg, their neighbor, invited Marcy to attend a Sarasota Museum of Art event. Then they attended one of the Ringling College Studio Lab events and became even more enamored with the institution. They took their first step in giving to the College community when they joined the Founders Circle, established to help Film students work with professional filmmakers as part of their education.
At a lunch with Dr. Larry R. Thompson, the Kleins surprised the president of the College with their creative idea of an endowed scholarship to pay the full tuition of a student, in perpetuity. With the help of Dr. Thompson, Vice President for Advancement Stacey Corley, Vice President of Finance and Administration Tracy Wagner, and Associate Vice President of Constituent Engagement Lisa Intagliata, this effort became what is now The Masterpiece Scholarship.
“The excitement of Ringling College is what really captured us, and we just wanted to be a part of that,” Michael says.
“Our goal is to make the Masterpiece Scholarship a significant recruiting tool,” Marcy explains. “We know there are very talented students who want to be at Ringling College but just cannot afford it. We want to help them.”
The impact of donors’ contributions to scholarships was driven home for the Kleins at the Trustee Scholars dinner. “Listening to the students talk about obstacles they overcame and their accomplishments at Ringling really touched us,” Marcy added. “We are so happy to be part of making possible the education of these students, who will have so much to contribute to the creative world. Seeing how grateful the students are who receive financial aid, we also want to help teach them the value of giving back.”
Giving back to the community, especially to the College, is a passion of the Kleins’. They have helped new people see what Ringling College offers—its growth, its dynamic leadership and, most importantly, the talent of the students. They have also assumed active leadership roles: Michael sits on the Executive and Finance Committees of the Board of Trustees and Marcy sits on the Scholarship Committee.
“The Kleins have made such a significant difference to Ringling College and its students,” Dr. Thompson says. “I love the creativity and energy Michael and Marcy exude. They saw a need and created a whole new scholarship program for the benefit of our students. Wow! They are a dynamic couple who have become immersed with everything Ringling College does.”
“Ringling is so much a part of the community. It’s not just a college,” Marcy remarks. “It’s a new library, a new visual arts center, a new soundstage, a new museum. We love bringing visitors from out of
town to events at the College and introducing them to all that is Ringling College.”
The Kleins’ home overlooking Sarasota Bay was designed by Ringling College Professor Emeritus Norman Hervieux. The interior reflects their passion for art and contains, among many other stunning pieces, Marcy’s collections, photographs, and found object art. In addition to making and collecting art, the Kleins also enjoy golf, boating, kayaking, bird watching, and reading.
By Nicole Caron
To learn more about giving to Ringling College, view our website.