School Announces $7 Million Gift from Sheila C. Johnson
University President Bob Kerrey and Parsons School of Design Dean,
H. Randolph Swearer, recently announced the largest single gift
in Parsons’ 107-year history. Sheila C. Johnson, co-founder of
Black Entertainment Television, has donated $7 million to create
a new center of innovation for Parsons, providing students with
the kind of technology and access to advanced knowledge that will
enable them to push the boundaries of design. The project will
redefine a major Parsons’ gallery, classrooms, and public spaces,
making it possible for students and faculty to better share their
efforts with the local and global community.
and truly excited about this generous donation to Parsons School
of Design, the largest division of the New School University,”
said Bob Kerrey, President of the New School University. “This
kind of gift helps us to maintain our leading position in design
education, just as Parsons’ students continue to set new precedents
Dean Swearer added,
“Sheila Johnson understands implicitly the function and form of
good design. Her visionary gift is a major step towards our future,
securing our position to educate designers for generations to
A member of the
Board of Governors at Parsons since 2002, Ms. Johnson made this
grant to reflect her belief in the School’s mission to provide
unparalleled art and design education.
my involvement with Parsons, I’ve found that the School strives
to provide the best opportunities for young designers,” said Johnson.
“Parsons understands that educating young artists is vitally important
to our growth as a society, both economically and aesthetically.
Knowing that my gift is instrumental in this process is a gift
profile contribution is the most recent in a series of donations
that are a result of Parson’s initiatives to enhance its programs
and facilities, increase its visibility, and to attract new levels
of financial support. In the past two years, private donations
have nearly tripled, with major grants coming from donors such
as the Donna Karan/Stephan Weiss Foundation and the Angelo Donghia
teacher, and philanthropist, Sheila C. Johnson has worn many hats
with great success. As the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television,
the main provider of African American cable television, Johnson
helped build the high-rated cable network into a media powerhouse.
Currently, Johnson is the Chief Executive Officer of Salamander
Development, LLC, where she is involved in every detail of creating
Salamander Inn & Spa, a 40-room inn and spa on 350 acres in
Middleburg, Virginia, slated to open in 2004.
violinist and music educator, Johnson formed the internationally
recognized “Youth Strings in Action” ensemble, a 140-member ensemble
for students between the ages of 3-18. She also wrote Young Strings
in Action, a textbook detailing her musical teaching methods,
which is still used in many schools around the United States.
gifts in the area of arts education include the development of
the Sheila C. Johnson Performing Arts Center at the Hill School,
a state-of-the-art facility designed to support children’s art
education, in her local community of Middleburg, VA. Johnson also
serves on the board of the International Centre for Missing and
Exploited Children and has served on the board of Carnegie Hall.
She is also the President of the Washington International Horse
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