New dramatic art scholarship, excellence fund honor Lillian Chason

UNC  and Eric and Cate Chason of Barrington, R.I., have announced new resources to help future students in the department of dramatic art.

The Lillian Chason Scholarship and the Lillian Chason Undergraduate Excellence Fund honor Lillian Chason, a first-year drama student who died following an illness in December 2009.

The Lillian Chason Scholarship will be awarded to undergraduates with an interest in dramatic arts. Selection for the merit scholarship will be based on the nominee’s contribution to the classroom, studio and productions of the department of dramatic art. The Lillian Chason Undergraduate Excellence Fund will support the overall enhancement of the undergraduate experience in dramatic art. Supported priorities will include the Lillian Chason Theatre Arts Weekend, undergraduate productions and performance, research projects, and undergraduate participation in national conferences and competitions.

“We only knew Lillian for a short time, but she proved to be a true talent,” said Professor McKay Coble, chair of the department of dramatic art in the College of Arts and Sciences. “These new resources created in her memory are a fitting tribute to a special young woman and will enable future undergraduates to take advantage of enhanced opportunities in dramatic art.”

Both the University and the family encourage others who want to honor Lillian’s memory to make additional private gifts to support the scholarship and excellence fund. See for more information.

Before her illness, Lillian Chason, a veteran performer, had been cast to play the lead in the play “A New Dress for Mona” at UNC. She won the role, and the respect of her fellow students and professors, through her determination to perform despite gradually losing her eyesight due to macular degeneration.

“Lillian was a compassionate, talented and intellectually gifted young woman who lived fearlessly and had an enormous passion for acting,” Eric and Cate Chason said. “The new scholarship and excellence fund honor Lillian by supporting students in the dramatic arts program who embody her love for the theater and learning.”

The Chasons previously set up a trust fund called Prayers for Lillian to accept donations in her honor.  A portion of those funds have supported the undergraduate experience in dramatic arts at UNC-Chapel Hill.