Dr. Jane Chu, a 1979 graduate of Ouachita Baptist University, has been nominated by President Obama to chair the National Endowment for the Arts, the White House has announced. Her nomination will move to the U.S. Senate for confirmation.
Dr. Chu has served since 2006 as president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City. Under her leadership, the Kauffman Center opened a $326 million facility dedicated in 2011, positioning it among the leading regional arts centers in the nation. The center is the performance home of the Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony and Lyric Opera of Kansas City.
“Jane’s lifelong passion for the arts and her background in philanthropy have made her a powerful advocate for artists and arts education in Kansas City,” President Obama said in a statement. “She knows firsthand how art can open minds, transform lives and revitalize communities and believes deeply in the importance of the arts to our national culture.”
“The School of Fine Arts at Ouachita Baptist University is proud to have one of our own as the nominee to head the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Dr. Scott Holsclaw, dean of the School of Fine Arts. “I can think of no one better suited to lead our nation in the pursuit of artistic development and arts initiatives throughout our country. We wish Dr. Chu the very best in her pursuit of continuing the outstanding work of the National Endowment for the Arts.”
In addition to earning a Bachelor of Music in piano performance and Bachelor of Music Education from Ouachita, Dr. Chu holds a master’s degree in piano pedagogy from Southern Methodist University, an MBA from Rockhurst University and a PhD in philanthropic studies from Indiana University. She also was awarded an honorary doctorate in music from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance.
“I am thrilled that President Obama has announced his intent to nominate Jane Chu for the prestigious chairmanship of the National Endowment for the Arts,” said Julia Irene Kauffman, chair of the Kauffman Center board of directors. “Although we will miss her at the Kauffman Center, I believe the President has chosen wisely and we wish her well in this important endeavor. … We look forward to supporting Jane through what we hope is a speedy confirmation process.”
Dr. Chu is the daughter of Dr. Finley Chu and his wife, Rosemary. Her father served as chairman of OBU’s economics and business department until his death in 1967. Rosemary “Mom” Chu, a campus legend at Ouachita, served more than 42 years as residence hall director of Frances Crawford Hall West before retiring in 2009. The Mom Chu House in Gosser Hall is named in her honor.
Dr. Jane Chu, who grew up on the Ouachita campus, is a former Miss OBU. During her years as a Ouachita student, she also was a member of the Ouachi-Tones, Concert Band and Ouachita Student Foundation.
“The legacy of the Chu family runs deep through Ouachita,” said Ouachita President Rex Horne. “This influence is widespread as evidenced in the nomination of Jane Chu as chair of the National Endowment of the Arts. We congratulate Jane on this significant opportunity.”
By Trennis Henderson, OBU Vice President for Communications