Welcome to OU Drama! The mission of the University of Oklahoma Helmerich School of Drama is to educate theatre artists, scholars, and teachers, preparing them to enter their professions with a knowledge of evolving industry standards; to perpetuate theatrical art by encouraging and nurturing the development of new artistic endeavors; and to provide a variety of theatrical productions and programs of excellence to Oklahoma audiences.
Filmmaker Ron Howard Establishes Scholarship for OU Drama Students with Small-Town Roots
NORMAN, OKLA. – A recent gift from Academy Award-winning filmmaker and Oklahoma native Ron Howard will help aspiring actors from rural areas pursue their dream of studying drama and fine arts at the University of Oklahoma.
Howard’s $90,000 gift to the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts at OU establishes a scholarship to support students in the college’s Helmerich School of Drama who hail from rural communities across the United States.
The scholarship is named in memory of Howard’s parents, Rance
and Jean Howard, both of whom were born in Oklahoma and studied drama at OU before enjoying successful acting careers. In addition to their son Ron, their son Clint Howard and their granddaughters Bryce Dallas Howard and Paige Howard have established notable careers in film and television.
“Our mom and dad were from small-town, rural America,” Ron Howard explained. “Their ability to afford to be the first in their families to pursue a career in the arts at OU changed their lives, as well as the course of our family history. They met on campus, made lifelong friends and career connections there, and affirmed the viability of their dreams. Our family wants to help support that dream for students from similar circumstances who make the excellent choice to attend the University of Oklahoma for drama and fine arts.”
Mary Margaret Holt, dean of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts, said, “We are honored that beloved American filmmaker and actor Ron Howard has chosen to memorialize his parents through this generous scholarship fund in support of students in the Helmerich School of Drama. Students come to our school from across the country, from a variety of communities and circumstances, all sharing the dream of a career in acting that Rance and Jean Howard cherished and achieved. The scholarships provided by this fund will support students from rural areas and small communities who might otherwise be unable to pursue a degree in drama. We are deeply grateful to Ron and his family.”
Ron Howard first came to prominence as a child actor, guest-starring in several television series, including an episode of The Twilight Zone. He gained national attention for playing young Opie Taylor in the sitcom The Andy Griffith Show from 1960 through 1968, along with prominent roles in the films The Music Man and American Graffiti. In 1974, Howard became a household name for playing Richie Cunningham in the sitcom Happy Days, a role he would play for the next six years.
The 1977 comedy Grand Theft Auto marked his directorial debut; and in 1980, he left Happy Days to focus on directing. During the past 43 years, he has directed more than 30 films, including the 1985 science fiction/fantasy Cocoon, the 1995 historical docudrama Apollo 13, the 2006 thriller The Da Vinci Code and the 2018 science fiction/fantasy Solo: A Star Wars Story.
For the 2001 biographical drama A Beautiful Mind, Howard won two Academy Awards – Best Director and Best Picture. In 2003, he received the National Medal of Arts, and in 2013, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. Howard has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the television and motion picture industries.
Seth Gordon, director of the Helmerich School of Drama, expressed his appreciation to the Howard family.
“I am immeasurably grateful to Ron Howard and his family for this generous gift,” Gordon said. “I have been director of the Helmerich School of Drama for one year, and in that short time I have witnessed very quiet and unassuming acts of heroism on the part of so many of our students. They often work multiple jobs to cover their tuition, and they’re at school, working hard, all day and all night.
Gordon continued, “This important gift makes it clear that their determination is seen and heard. The arts are essential to any thriving society and with this gift, Ron Howard makes it possible for the finest theatre artists of tomorrow to make their contribution. The hearts of everyone at the Helmerich School of Drama are full.”