Soundbreaking: Offering Hometown Support

When provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Lawrence Simpson and his wife, Ann, established the Lawrence and Ann Simpson Endowed Scholarship in 2011, they directed their support to students of African-American or Latino descent who hail from their hometown of Cleveland, OH.

“We feel it’s important to provide more access and opportunities for students of color, and one way to do that is by making scholarship dollars available to them,” Simpson notes. “We’re also committed to uplifting and supporting students from the Greater Cleveland area.”

Simpson has a unique vantage point as a scholarship donor given his leadership role at Berklee. He has a deep understanding of the impact of this support on students at the college and conservatory. When asked for his insight, Dr. Simpson shared his concerns.

“One of the most frequently discussed issues in the news today is the cost of higher education,” Simpson says. “It is critically important that when one is able to ease the financial burden on students and their families, that you make the sacrifice and do your part. Plus, it simply feels good knowing you have helped someone who really needed it.” Like many Berklee donors, the Simpsons hope their scholarship will make their recipients’ experience at Berklee less financially stressful, allowing them to fully focus on their craft.

“I’m so grateful to the Simpsons for the role they played in my education,” says Tatum Flemister ’17, a recent recipient of the Lawrence and Ann Simpson Endowed Scholarship. “It was such a great feeling to know that someone like Dr. Simpson, who looks like me and has connections to Ohio, is so revered around campus. To have someone like that in my corner was great during my time at Berklee. If they had not helped with my education, I wouldn’t have been able to complete my studies.”

Flemister’s gratitude is not lost on the Simpsons. “Ann and I have always been philanthropic because we truly believe that through helping others, our lives are enriched,” Simpson states. “We encourage anyone considering establishing or supporting a scholarship to simply do it. As we say in bid whist, ‘If you think long, you think wrong.’ Just do it.”