Town & Gown
Town & Gown

Paula McCance (left), former president of Town & Gown, and Kathy Dunlap, current president, are pictured in the Town & Gown Garden located in front of Chapman University’s Elliott Alumni House.  The organization supports students through their Endowed Scholarship Fund, as well as various campus improvement projects, including the Gardens.

- - - -

Town & Gown

The financial strain brought on by COVID-19 made life stressful for Chapman University alumnus Hawk Shahbazian ‘23.  Like many of his classmates, he navigated a world of online classes, while trying to support his family through the pandemic years.

He considered picking up a second job to make ends meet.  But thanks to a Chapman support group called Town & Gown, he didn’t have to.  Shahbazian received a $4,500 scholarship that helped him finish. 

“It definitely boosted my self-esteem.  I attended a few events with members and it was nice to see a community that cares about students,” says Shahbazian, now attending the University of California Irvine where he is pursuing a Master of Science in Business Analytics.  He plans to work in sports.

Seeking a way to connect the university with the community, Chapman University launched Town & Gown in 1968.  Through the Town & Gown Endowed Scholarship Fund, 67 students have been named Town & Gown Scholars.  The organization also hosts a “Lunch at the Forum” event, an annual series of five mini master classes.

The lunches have included talks by various faculty and leaders from Chapman on topics ranging from art to law. Chapman Presidential Fellow Jack Horner, who served as technical advisor for Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park films, presented on dinosaur remains in California this past February.  He also gave a presentation to children on a Saturday, showing them a real dinosaur bone on the campus.

Paula McCance initially worked as a staff member at Chapman and joined Town & Gown in 2004, later serving on the board of directors in 2015.  She worked at Chapman for 12 years and has two children who graduated from the university.

“In my two years as president, I have learned so much about the university beyond my 12 years of working at Chapman,” she says.  “This organization has much to be proud of in its 56 years of support to Chapman University.”

McCance considers Town & Gown’s campus improvement projects to be some of the group’s proudest achievements.  Those projects include the Gentle Spring Fountain in Escalette Plaza, the Town & Gown Gardens at the Elliott Alumni House, the American flag in the Ambassador George L. Argyros ’59 Global Citizens Plaza and more.

The group has focused during the last decade on supporting students through the scholarship and the Library Endowment for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, going toward book purchases for the Leatherby Libraries.

Kathy Dunlap, who took over as president on June 1, is excited for some new programs the organization will be introducing.

“We will offer members the opportunity to participate in three online master classes, to tour the Brain Institute on the Rinker Campus, to see a special presentation of ‘The War Letters’ and to participate in the reopening of the Hilbert Museum in the spring of 2024,” she says.

Dunlap, a second-generation Chapman alumna, learned about the organization after being invited to attend “Lunch at the Forum” events with her husband.  She most recently served as the organization’s hospitality chair from 2020 to 2022.  She says her service to the organization has given her more than the fulfillment of helping Chapman students.

“Through my associations on the board, I have developed some meaningful relationships with others who also are interested in supporting the university and in helping deserving students by providing scholarships,” Dunlap says.

McCance says that COVID-19 created some setbacks for the organization, but Town & Gown is exploring new ways to grow membership and scholarship support. The organization is open to everyone.

“We will also gear up to celebrate our 60th anniversary in 2028 in a big way!” McCance says.

Learn more at:

- - - -

The 2023-2024 “Lunch at the Forum” and other events will include:

Sept. 13 at 6 pm: Town & Gown Meet and Greet Info Night, Hilbert Temporary Museum
Sept. 21Online master class with Dr. Gail Stearns, Liberating Mindfulness: Billion Dollar Industry to Engaged Spirituality
Oct. 5 at 11:30 am:  Dr. Uri Maoz, assistant professor, member of the Chapman Institute for Interdisciplinary Brain and Behavioral Sciences
Nov. 2 at 11:30 am:  Dr. Pete Simi, professor at Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Feb. 1 at 11:30 am:  Collette Creppell, Vice President of Campus Planning and Design
March 7 at 11:30 am:  Wendy Salmond, professor and Martha Weidlein, Masters Professor in Art
May 2 at 11:30 am:  Russell Boast, trustee professor and head of casting for the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts

Article Published in the
Sep / Oct 23 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Get the Most from Your Article
Discover exclusive framed articles, digital elements, and photos from your photoshoot, all available for purchase for featured subjects.