Former Fine and Performing Arts professor creates scholarship for technical theater

By Kacey Maldonado and Caroline King

The Tharyle Prather Endowed Scholarship, a new scholarship for musical theater majors, was announced this past Family Weekend on Nov. 1 through Nov. 3, in honor of the late Tharyle Prather, a former professor at Rider’s School of Fine and Performing Arts for over 35 years. 

The $25,000 gift to the university from Prather’s niece, Darra Prather-Day, and her husband, Rick Day, enabled the start of the fund, in hopes of continuing Prather’s unique and determined style of performance and technical theater.

Prather was able to inspire his students and placed a level of trust in them which made him a professor his students could count on. 

The scholarship fund is a way of propelling the musical theater program at Rider even further while also drawing in more interested students.

“I think this is important to theater majors because it will provide students with the opportunity to come to Rider University to learn and grow through their craft,” said junior musical theater major Madeline Kunkowski. 

“It will benefit the school because Rider will be giving students a chance to continue their education,” she said. “Paying for college can be stressful and it’s very hard to do financially, so I think Rider is doing a really great thing by offering this scholarship.”  

The Prather Endowed Scholarship is for technical theater students who qualify for and demonstrate financial need. 

Prather would often bring decorations from home for upcoming productions to bring his shows to life, further proving his dedication to his craft.

Prather previously worked at Rutgers University as a technical director for the Mason Gross School of the Arts theater program before transitioning to Rider University. 

Throughout his career, Prather helped create magic on stage working for more than 35 years as a director before retiring in 2011. 

As technical director at Rider, Prathers’ job was to oversee designs, sound, lighting and other technical aspects, which aided in him creating several main stage productions.

Miriam Mills, wife to Prather for 39 years, said the tribute is a perfect way to honor her husband’s legacy and dedication to students and the university.  

Through this endowment scholarship, technical theater majors in need of financial aid can create vivid productions and share a love for theater as Prather did. 

Senior musical theater major Belle McNamara commented, “It’s great that something horrible like a death can be transformed into something great that can help further the theater program at Rider and help a student financially succeed.”

To contribute to the scholarship visit www.rider.edu/pratherscholarship or contact Associate Director of Leadership Giving for Scholarships Gabrielle Rinkus at grinkus@rider.edu or 609-896-5344.

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