The Des Moines Metro Opera held a silent auction fundraiser on March 11. One of the items opera patrons could bid on was the name of a $40,000 scholarship at Simpson.
A member of the DMMO board of directors, Nancy J. Main, was the winning bidder. According to Robert Montana, director of development and community relations at DMMO, next year a vocal music student at Simpson will receive a scholarship in Main’s name.
“The student will know that these people are getting the opportunity to name the scholarship,” Montana said. “[The winning bidder] will see the student, meet the student and go to any of their performances at Simpson.”
Main purchased the name of the scholarship for $10,800, but she could not be reached for comment.
Simpson College President John Byrd echoed Montana’s sentiment about the opportunity for someone to bid for his or her name to be on a scholarship at Simpson.
“This unique partnership between Simpson College and DMMO will allow a young singer to take advantage of a scholarship worth $40,000 over four years and is the largest scholarship awarded in the vocal music department,” Byrd said.
Montana said it’s important to understand that the auction sold the name of the scholarship, not the scholarship itself.
“It just establishes a scholarship with the person’s name on it at Simpson College,” Montana said. “It’s not like Simpson has said, ‘here is a $40,000 dollar scholarship, go out and find out how much you can get for it. It’s not like that.”
However, the scholarship is the first of its kind at the DMMO auction.
“This is the first time we have ever done it, and it’s just a one-time deal,” Montana said. “I don’t think there has ever been another item like this. I mean, how many auctions have you been to that has put up an item like this for auction, ‘We’re very excited to announce a unique item available at this auction: the opportunity to fund a scholarship, in the winning bidder’s name, for an outstanding and deserving incoming freshman in the vocal performance program at Simpson College’.”
It will be up to Professor Maria DiPalma, chair of the music department, to award the four-year scholarship to an incoming student.
“We haven’t made any decisions yet,” DiPalma said. “We are still examining all the potential applicants for the scholarship.”
The auction was called the Objects of Desire, Fine Wine and Specialty Item Auction, and it offered a variety of other items besides the name of the music scholarship, such as dinner packages, fine wines, fine jewelry, artwork and cultural experiences.
The money raised by the auction will go toward programs of DMMO’s Education Division.