Talk of the Towne
Town & Gown
Town & Gown funded the renovation of the gardens at the Elliott Alumni House, which was dedicated on October 15th. At the ribbon–cutting ceremony from left are ’37 alumnae Ella Henshaw, Alumni Association President Kelsey Smith, President James Doti, honored donors Pat Elliott ’60/’74 and Tom Elliott ’60 and donor Howard Kelley

Curious about what goes on at Chapman University and interested in helping worthy students achieve an education? Check out the nonprofit organization Town & Gown. Serving as a link between the university (gown) and the community (town), the group holds a variety of events throughout the year designed to give members a taste of what Chapman has to offer while raising funds for student scholarships and campus enrichment projects.

“Town & Gown is comprised of interested community members who enjoy learning about the university, meeting faculty and attending academic, social and cultural functions,” says the organization’s current president Marcia Cooley. “Our most popular activity is our Lunch at the Forum series, which includes an excellent lunch and fascinating lectures.”

Held five times a year, Lunch at the Forum events feature presentations by an assortment of faculty members and are catered by Sodexo, the school’s food service provider. The next lunch on February 2nd is titled “The Arab Spring: Implications for U.S. Policy.” Speaking are Dr. James J. Coyle, Director of Global Education and Dr. Nubar Hovsepian, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies. Both are Middle East experts, but a panel discussion format may show divergent views. In March, they will feature “The Impact of Design: From the Olympics to Medicine.” Professors Eric Chimenti and Claudine Jaenichen will discuss how design affects our lives and are bringing students to demonstrate their work. Past events this season included the presentation, “How Congress Really Works: The Budget and Debt Ceiling,” presented by the Dean of Chapman University Law School Dr. Tom Campbell and “Beyond the Notes” by renowned pianist and Director of Keyboard Studies, Dr. Grace Fong.

The Town & Gown organization awards need and merit–based scholarships, and recipients are introduced at the luncheons, notes 1948 Chapman alumnus Mary Lou Savage. “Seeing the kids who have benefited from the scholarships and being on the active campus is an exciting, uplifting experience,” she says.

Savage started the Lunch at the Forum program in 1994 when she was president of the organization. “At the time 18 years ago, Town & Gown, which was founded in 1968, kept members busy with off–campus activities such as bus tour trips, but few events were actually held at the college,” she says. “Though the field trips were fun and we still do them, I didn’t think we were fulfilling our mission statement, which is to be a liaison between the school and community. I told President Doti of that concern when I approached him about starting the luncheons. He agreed to the events and let us host them at the Argyros Forum, which had opened two years before. The luncheons were an immediate hit.”

People enjoy the Lunch at the Forum events because they are a fun opportunity to learn, adds Melida Canfield, Co Vice–President of Programs and a board member. “I discover interesting information listening to the professors’ lectures, and I really like making new friends over lunch.”

In addition to awarding scholarships to worthy Chapman students each year, Town & Gown has underwritten a number of on–campus projects such as the gardens at the Elliott Alumni House, a reading alcove at Leatherby Libraries, an endowed library fund for the arts, humanities and social sciences to purchase books for the library and the Gentle Spring fountain in Escalette Plaza.

Members’ dues and gifts support these projects, but anyone who wishes to can attend the Lunch at the Forum events.

For information on tickets to Lunch at the Forum, which can be purchased as a series for $125 or individually for $30, contact Melida Canfield at (714) 745-7851 or email her at For information regarding membership, call Judy Crum at (714) 532-3264.

Published in the Jan/Feb 2012 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review

Written by Julie Bawden-Davis, Photograph by Marcia Cooley

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