By Bruce Hallmark (M.S., ’04)
Legacies come in all shapes and sizes, and the ones that seem to make the biggest impact are lived by individuals whose passion and dedication shape the lives of those around them.
Such is the legacy of Jack Curfman (B.S., ’49).
Curfman was an internationally recognized art director, exhibition designer, and interior design faculty member in the Department of Design and Merchandising. His career at Colorado State University spanned more than 50 years, during which time he was recognized by countless art museums and professional organizations for his outstanding creative abilities.
He passed away March 24, 2020. Beyond his legendary talent, Curfman is universally remembered for his personal warmth, kindness, and generosity.
Build on What You Love
In 2013, when Curfman was interviewed by the College of Health and Human Sciences for their Legacies Project, he said: “Working with students on a one-to-one basis was always the most rewarding part of teaching, and I would consider it a highlight of my career at CSU. I have kept in touch with many of my students as they continued their lives beyond their student years.”
The Jack Curfman Creative and Visual Design Scholarship, which Curfman established in 2002, reflects his commitment to students and their creativity. In the past 20 years, more than 90 scholarship awards totaling $60,000 have been made to nearly 50 students studying apparel design, interior design, and graphic design, as well as theatre with a concentration in design and technology. After Curfman’s passing, a generous planned gift from his estate more than doubled the size of the endowment, increasing the amount and number of future scholarship awards.
Eliza Carter (B.S., ’22) and Aaron Clausen (B.S, ’21) are two students who recently benefited by receiving the Jack Curfman Creative and Visual Design Scholarship.
Carter, who is currently a senior studying design and merchandising, said, “College has been a challenge. I’m a financially independent student, so I don’t have support from my parents. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the scholarship and how much of a difference it’s made in my life.”
This semester, Carter is interning at Rockywoods Fabrics, a textile goods wholesaler and retailer based in Loveland, Colorado, where, she says, “The learning process has been great. I’m using all the skills I learned in my degree.” And without the scholarship award, the internship might not have been financially possible. “The scholarship helped me make this transition into the workforce, which has made a big impact on my life.”
Clausen’s story echoes similar themes of met needs and access to opportunity. He was awarded the Curfman scholarship twice, the first time in 2020. “It really helped during the pandemic, which was tough financially and emotionally.”
The second time was at the start of his last semester. “I received the scholarship again at the beginning of our final capstone projects [designing a mini collection of five outfits], which is very stressful,” he said. “Being awarded the scholarship assured me that I can do this, that I have the creative mind to make this dream a reality.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree in apparel design and merchandising, Clausen headed off to New York City to intern with several designers including Naeem Khan and Christian Cowan, whose creations regularly adorn celebrities.
The experience solidified his desire to work in the design world. He returned to Colorado earlier this year and is working in retail apparel in Denver while interviewing for design positions.
Wings to Fly
“Scholarships can really change the outcome of your education,” said Clausen. “I feel a lot of students are scared to apply for fear they won’t get picked or just don’t want to put themselves out there. But you just have to go for it and try. You don’t know how your story could inspire the people making scholarship decisions and what those funds can do for you.”
After graduation this summer, Carter is planning a move to Atlanta, Georgia, which is home to fashion and film industries, to pursue a career that aligns with her passions for textile sustainability and costume design.
“It’s so admirable how Professor Curfman continued to pour back into CSU and students even after his retirement,” Carter said. “I’m very grateful for it.”