As Elizabeth “Buffy” Price retires from the School of Dance, a gift from her and husband Mike Brown, together here in the large dance studio at the deLaski Performing Arts Building, will continue their memorable Mason legacy. (photo by Christopher Bobo)
The couple whose dedication to dance at Mason has made them emblematic of the program’s growth have made a philanthropic gift that further cements their legacy at the university.
Esteemed faculty member Elizabeth “Buffy” Price, and her husband, Mike Brown, have together established a scholarship endowment to benefit Mason dance students. Their gift, announced by School of Dance director Karen Reedy on March 27 at the annual Mason Dance Fête, will help the school recruit the most talented and qualified students to Mason’s highly-regarded program.
The couple’s gift is a generous culmination to a 30-year career at Mason for Buffy Price, who is retiring this year. A dancer and choreographer, Price arrived in 1991 as an adjunct professor in the Dance Department. When the School of Dance was established in 2010, she was its founding director, a position she held through 2013.
She was a key member of the architectural design team for the deLaski Performing Arts Building on the Fairfax Campus, completed in 2011. The top-notch dance facilities in this beautiful addition dramatically raised the profile of Mason’s program. Recognizing dancers as athletes, she established an athletic training position, one of only six in the nation, which provided full-time support for dance majors. In 2017, Price became the first faculty member from the College of Visual and Performing Arts to receive the David J. King Teaching Award for her career contributions—the highest honor a Mason faculty member can receive.
“Buffy’s commitment to, and passion for, the School of Dance are seen in every aspect of our program,” says Karen Reedy. “She brings elegance, generosity and excellence to everything she touches, and her impact is reflected throughout our School of Dance curriculum and philosophy.”
Price’s husband, Mike Brown, an attorney, has also been instrumental in supporting Mason Dance, as an advisor, advocate, patron, and fundraiser. A member of the Arts at Mason Board since 2002 (and past chair), Brown was part of a small circle that helped form the Board, and later the Dance Partnership Council, where he is also a member.
“Dance at Mason is a vibrant, enthusiastic, exciting community to be a part of,” Brown says. “I’ve always been a great lover of the program, so the idea that we would support it going forward, in Buffy’s name, was just a no-brainer.”
For Price and Brown, both of whom benefited from scholarships as students themselves, the affirmation that scholarship support provides to a young dancer is evident. “I was supported through scholarships when I was at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, and it absolutely changed my world that someone believed in me enough to support my education,” Price says. Brown was a Morehead Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill; there is a profound commitment on their part to give back in the form of undergraduate scholarships.
“This endowment gift establishes a lasting legacy for Buffy Price and her remarkable tenure with the School of Dance. It also fittingly reflects Buffy and Mike’s dedication to this art form and the gifted students in the program,” says Susan Graziano, director of development for the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “Scholarships are essential to attract and retain the most talented students, and Buffy and Mike are leading by example through this generous gift.”
With its focus on contemporary and modern dance, Mason’s School of Dance admits only about 20 students per year, many from out-of-state. “Our school remains small, intentionally so,” Price says. “But we knew we could grow in excellence, and so the trajectory of the program has been to recruit these highly intelligent and talented students to enter the world of dance.”
“We are still the new kid on the block. Some other top dance programs can offer much more scholarship aid. We have to make students fall in love with us and want to come here.”
Graduates of Mason Dance are highly sought after in the world of performing arts, with a recent alumni survey showing that three out of every four are employed in fields related to their major. Others have gone into fields such as education, business, law, and medicine.
What draws such students to Mason? As Buffy Price says: “It’s really about the people here at Mason—people who are passionate about this still young university. So it’s a place of possibility. … And the faculty we have here, and the staff, are world-class and are totally focused on giving back to students. It’s wonderful to work at a place like that.”
Rob Riordan / May 7, 2021