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Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh establishes college scholarship

Akron Beacon Journal

AKRON, Ohio _ Eagles rocker Joe Walsh has funded the first performance-based scholarship in Kent State University’s College of the Arts.

The $50,000 award will underwrite an annual $10,000 scholarship for the next five years for one or more incoming freshmen.

The former KSU student told the Akron Beacon Journal in 2001 that his two years at Kent State were the foundation for his career as a rock-and-roll star.

“I didn’t have a clue about life when I started college, except that I knew I was dumb,” he said at the time. “But just the experience of going to college taught me the stuff I needed in order to do anything in life _ you know, how to do my own laundry, that sort of thing.”

Walsh, 60, attended Kent State between 1966 and 1968, majoring in English and picking up a guitar for the first time. He dropped out to play full time with the James Gang in Cleveland.

That led to success in the Eagles, a successful career as a solo artist and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He started a foundation to fund nonprofit causes, among them amateur-radio education, and has performed in many benefit concerts.

He also kept up his contacts with Kent State. In 1986, he was grand marshal of its homecoming parade. In 2001, university officials gave him an honorary doctorate of music for his success as a singer, songwriter and guitarist.

That prompted Walsh to endow a $25,000 scholarship in Kent State’s School of Music. Since KSU has a 5 percent spending policy on endowments, this means the university gives out one $1,250 award to a music major each year.

When Walsh wanted to do more, Steve Sokany, associate vice president for university development, visited him in southern California with a slew of ways he could spend his money at Kent State.

What resonated was a performance-based scholarship _ a kind of American Idol for the college crowd.

“People who have a specific talent in the fine and performing arts don’t necessarily have the best grades so they don’t have the best scholarship options,” Sokany said. “He was very intrigued by this.”

Agreement with Walsh in hand, the university asked its schools of music and theatre and dance to select their most promising incoming freshmen. Nine auditioned and were interviewed by a university panel in March.

Walsh, who is touring with the Eagles, chose not to be part of the process.

The university is keeping the name of the winner under wraps until all of the competitors have been notified later this week.

But as the award is renewable, there might not be another competition until that student graduates from Kent State without having spent a cent on tuition and fees, which currently total $8,430 annually for in-state students.

John Crawford, associate dean for the College of the Arts, said he hoped Walsh will be so pleased with the program that he will continue to underwrite it when the agreement expires and that others will follow suit.

“I’m just so grateful I found this little place in Ohio where creative people were all together,” Walsh said in 2001.

“We were all so naive …and the world was a lot slower. It allowed kids the time to act their age.”


© 2008, Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio).

Visit Akron Beacon Journal Online at http://www.ohio.com/.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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