Friday, June 21, 2024

Art patron honors late husband, announces bequest to NSU Foundation, Art Department

by BPT Staff
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Carol Kirkland of Natchitoches, an artist, former art teacher and lifelong learner, announced a planned gift to the Northwestern State University Foundation that will benefit students in the Department of Fine and Graphic Art.  Kirkland created the James and Carol Kirkland Scholarship and made the announcement on her birthday April 23.  

Kirkland said the bequest honors her late husband James “Jim” Kirkland, an NSU graduate, who passed away suddenly in 2020.   

“I did it not just for me but for Jim, too,” Kirkland said. “He would have been so happy.  I don’t have children, so this was a way to give to the future. He was a 52-year part of my life, and he went [to school] here.” 

Jim Kirkland’s parents were graduate of Louisiana Normal, as NSU was then known. He graduated from Natchitoches High School in 1958 and earned a master’s degree at NSU in 1965.  He taught mathematics and coached in Texas and abroad in Germany before moving to Colorado Springs to teach.  There he met and married Carol, who was an art teacher.  The couple opened a stationery and gift shop in 1983. In 1996 they sold the shop and retired to Natchitoches where they immersed themselves into the social and cultural fabric of the town.   

“Jim had grown up here and I wanted to partake in this city because I had always been in big cities.  I was a military kid. Dad retired in Colorado Springs but we lived all over.  I always admired Jim because he grew up here and had friends from way, way back,” she said.  

Over the years, Jim and Carol enjoyed the amenities of the university and attended concerts, programs and exhibits presented by NSU’s School of Creative and Performing Arts. After Jim passed away, Carol began taking a ceramics class at NSU and found being around students refreshing.  

“I needed to fill my time and get back in. All of a sudden, one day I went, ‘These are my kind of people.’  You’re not weird when you’re in the arts. I love the people in the art department.” 

“She’s added a lot to the ceramics class,” said Dr. Leslie Gruesbeck, director of the Department of Fine and Graphic Art. “Intergenerational learning is the best.  It’s such a good example of how one never stops learning and there’s not going to be a point where that’s not important to you or pleasurable to you.  It’s awesome to have her here.”  

Kirkland describes the ideal student recipient of the future scholarship as “hardworking, a good art student who has a passion to succeed.”   

Friends who wish to contribute to the fund can do so at   

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