Press Releases

Purchase College School of the Arts Gala Raises $1.3 million

Date Released: 3/17/2010

Nelson A. Rockefeller Medals presented to artist KiKi Smith, choreographer Paul Taylor, musician Paquito D'Rivera, and philanthropists Jane and Donald Cecil. Comedian Susie Essman"77, of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" hosted the event.

President Thomas J. Schwarz announced $1.3 million was raised at the Purchase College School of the Arts Gala held at the Millennium Hotel in New York City.


The evening’s host was comedian and actress Susie Essman, Purchase class of ’77, and co-star of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.


Honorees included artist KiKi Smith, choreographer Paul Taylor, playwright Lynn Nottage, musician Paquito D’ Rivera, and philanthropists Jane and Donald Cecil.  They received Nelson A. Rockefeller Awards for their contributions to the visual and performing arts from President Schwarz.


Co-chairs of the Gala were Ronni Rubin Bolger, New York, and Lucille Werlinich, Purchase, NY.


President Schwarz and Emily Grant, Chair of the Purchase College Foundation welcomed guests. 


Special guest was SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher.


The evening included a dinner and special tribute performances for the honorees by performers from the School of the Arts Conservatories at Purchase College.


The Purchase Dance Corps performed excerpts from Cloven Kingdom and Paul Taylor’s Company B.  The Purchase Repertory Theatre performed a scene from Lynn Nottage’s play “Intimate Apparel.” The Purchase Jazz Orchestra performed a new arrangement of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma.”


The Gala raised funds for the School of the Arts Fund which supports student scholarships, exhibitions and productions in the visual and performing arts.  This includes fully staged student productions of the Purchase Repertory Theatre, Purchase Opera, Purchase Symphony Orchestra, Purchase Jazz and Latin Jazz Orchestras, Purchase Dance Corps and art exhibitions.


The School of the Arts provides the highest level of professional training to visual and performing artists.  Students are prepared for careers in their fields and are inspired to be engaged and innovative contributors to society.


The décor emphasized sustainability.  Burgundy table cloths were topped with natural burlap covers.  Centerpieces of fruit in shades of green with red burgundy accents were arranged in footed glass bowls.  They included green grapes, granny apples, green pears, black and red plums, red pears and little lady apples.  At the party’s conclusion the fruit was donated to City Harvest so that it could be shared by others. Buffet tables were accented with dramatic sprays of wheat grass.


Gregory Taylor, Interim Dean of the Conservatory of Theatre Arts & Film and the Conservatory of Dance presented the tribute to Lynn Nottage.


Todd Coolman, Director of Jazz Studies presented the tribute to Paquito D’ Rivera. 


Helaine Posner, Chief Curator/Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, Neuberger Museum presented the tribute to KiKi Smith.


Carol Walker, Dean Emeritus, Professor, Conservatory of Dance presented the tribute to Paul Taylor.


President Schwarz presented the tribute and awards to philanthropists Jane and Donald Cecil.


The evening concluded with a dessert reception.