Michael Chapman, Theatre Design and Technology alumnus and longtime theatre, television and film costume supervisor, has made a financial commitment to the School of Theatre to endow the Montez H. King Memorial Graduate Scholarship in Theatre Design and Technology.
Chapman graduated from the School of Theatre in 1980 with a master of fine arts degree in design and technology and he spent the majority of his more than 30-year career working in Hollywood as a wardrobe supervisor. During his career, he received three Emmy nominations for his work in television and supervised the wardrobe of several films, including Spiderman 2 and The Legend of Zorro.
While he attributes much of his career success to his time at Penn State, his experience at the University was dramatically improved by his relationship with King, costume designer and a fixture in the School of Theatre for almost three decades.
“Montez was instrumental in changing my life, and I’m sure thousands of other students’ lives,” Chapman said. “She was truly the sweetest person and really looked out for the students. They were always her number-one priority.”
As Chapman worked with the College of Arts and Architecture development staff to craft his philanthropic vision, he didn’t want to establish a scholarship in his name. The selfless mindset reflects the legacy of King, who Chapman said deserves to be recognized for all of her contributions to Penn State.
“Without hesitation she was always there for the students,” Chapman said. “Even though she had children of her own, she made us feel like we were all her children.”
King, who passed away in 2013, came to Penn State in 1967 along with her husband, Hagan King, who passed away in 2017. He also worked in the School of Theatre and was instrumental in managing the backstage production of events for almost 30 years. After retirement, the Kings were avid supporters of the School of Theatre and spent countless hours volunteering for local organizations.
Karen King Freeman, the eldest of the Kings’ two daughters, said the development of the scholarship is an amazing honor for her family and fitting tribute to a woman who “gave her heart and soul” to her students.
“The students were the driving force behind everything that she did,” King Freeman said. “She was always so proud of their accomplishments and she cherished the relationships she had with all of them. It’s exciting to know that her name will be connected to a program that she loved so much.”
Chapman’s endowment will provide scholarship money in perpetuity that will be divided equally among the students annually enrolled in the program.
“It is my hope that this scholarship will help Penn State to attract some of the best students to the program,” Chapman said. “And by naming it after Montez, it is also my hope that more people who she affected will decide to contribute to and grow the scholarship in honor of such an incredible woman.”
Rick Lombardo, director of the School of Theatre, said the “extraordinary endowment” will be a tremendous help for graduate students in the program, but will also highlight the importance of student-mentor relationships at Penn State.
“Knowing that someone cares enough about what we are doing for students, and to leave this type of bequest, is deeply humbling and a reminder that the impact we can have on individual students’ lives is truly incalculable,” Lombardo said. “To name it after a former mentor shows the powerful relationships that we develop with our students in the arts.”