Before a crowd of music students and their supporters on March 7, CSULB officials announced the largest donation in university history - $16.4 million from the Bob Cole Trust to provide scholarships for student musicians. In recognition of the generosity of the donation, CSULB will seek the permanent naming of the Department of Music as the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at a meeting of the California State University Board of Trustees.
"In establishing the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, we are doing more than recognizing a man for his extraordinary generosity to our university," said CSULB President F. King Alexander. "This conservatory will forever honor a Long Beach man who looked to the promising futures of students at our university and wanted to help them succeed."
Bob Cole, who died in 2004, was a Long Beach real estate entrepreneur for more than 35 years. Considered one of the area's most successful real estate businessmen, the founder of Bob Cole Realty developed the method of trading real estate tax free. Playing piano to entertain his family and friends was a lifelong favorite pastime, and it was that passion that led to the gift being directed to the CSULB Music Department.
"The establishment of the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at Cal State Long Beach will attract the finest students to what is already one of the most respected programs in the country," said Donald Para, dean of the College of the Arts. "Bob Cole specifically wanted to ensure an excellent education to the most talented music students, regardless of financial capability, and this gift will allow that to occur."
The conservatory offers a "real world" education that combines practical and theoretical experience in music performance, education, composition and theory. The excellence of CSULB music students is nationally recognized; for example, the CSULB Chamber Choir recently made its Carnegie Hall debut; Pacific Standard Time, the university's premiere vocal jazz ensemble, was invited to perform at the International Association of Jazz Educators in Toronto; and the CSULB Concert Jazz Orchestra won the Next Generation Jazz Competition at the university level, earning a performance spot at the legendary Monterey Jazz Festival.
"This is an extraordinary gift, one that will set the Cal State Long Beach music program apart from its peers," said Andrea Taylor, vice president of university relations and development.
The soon-to-be-named Bob Cole Conservatory of Music is a part of the College of the Arts at Cal State Long Beach, the largest and most comprehensive publicly-funded school for the arts in the West, with more than 4,200 undergraduate and graduate majors. It includes the departments of Art, Dance, Design, Film and Electronic Arts, Music and Theatre Arts, as well as the University Art Museum, the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, the Center for First Amendment Studies and the California Institute for the Preservation of Jazz.