Universal ap­peal for pa­trons of all arts

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SOCIETY - Story and pho­tos by Joan A. Bang

There was re­cently a cel­e­bra­tion that took place to mark a mile­stone birth­day in the city’s his­tory. Its oc­cur­rence brought to­gether pa­trons from ev­ery sec­tor of Philadel­phia’s ex­tra­or­di­nary cor­ner of the mar­ket when it comes to art and higher ed­u­ca­tion. It was a gala for The Univer­sity of the Arts (UA) and its 140 years serv­ing its ma­tric­u­lates and the com­mu­nity.

Peo­ple from all sec­tors of the area’s busi­nesses, com­merce, law, ed­u­ca­tion and med­i­cal en­ti­ties, de­scended on the Belle­vue Ho­tel to fete the in­sti­tu­tion, as well as its grad­u­ates, pro­fes­sors, sup­port­ers and cur­rent stu­dents.

Founded a cen­tury after the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence was signed, UA is one of just a few places na­tion­wide to of­fer a cur­ricu­lum for those in­ter­ested in pur­su­ing ca­reers that have to do with the per­form­ing or vis­ual arts. Stu­dents have the op­tions to ex­plore de­grees and ca­reers in de­sign­ing jew­elry, iron works, fur­ni­ture, paint­ing, crafts, pho­tog­ra­phy and more re­cently film mak­ing, videos and mu­si­cal pro­duc­tions.

The evening was not just an ode to the univer­sity’s longevity, but also marked an­other mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion for UA, the ar­rival last winter of its new pres­i­dent, David Yager. A “jack of all trades” the gen­tle­man has worked in a va­ri­ety of places in­clud­ing stints at phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies, au­to­mo­tive busi­nesses and med­i­cally re­lated in­sti­tu­tions. Be­fore tack­ling work at For­tune 500 com­pa­nies, Yager was a department chair­man at the Univer­sity of So. Florida where he’d over­seen its Graph­ic­stu­dio so he’s come well-pre­pared to ad­dress the pos­si­ble is­sues, chal­lenges and ex­cite­ment of an in­ner-city col­lege.

An­other part of the gala evening was spent in hon­or­ing two peo­ple who’ve made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the school. Trustee Eleanor Davis was pre­sented with the in­au­gu­ral “Hamil­ton Award”. Named after lo­cal phi­lan­thropist and for­mer UA board chair­woman, Dor­rance Hamil­ton, the cri­te­ria for re­ceiv­ing it is em­body­ing all the qual­i­ties Hamil­ton has poured forth through­out her life, in­clud­ing a spirit of giv­ing back and pay­ing it for­ward from a gen­er­ous heart.

The other hon­oree, Pro­fes­sor Stephen Taran­tal, also an emer­i­tus de­signee, is now en­joy­ing a well-de­served re­tire­ment after many years in his po­si­tion.

What re­ally got the au­di­ence revved at the an­niver­sary gala was a pre­sen­ta­tion by one of Philadel­phia’s home-grown stars, Les­lie Odom, Jr. Fresh from his role as Aaron Burr in the mega-hit Broad­way pro­duc­tion of Hamil­ton, Odom ‘jazzed’ up the as­sem­blage with a mon­tage of songs from his award win­ning Tony and Grammy per­for­mances. Its im­pact will hope­fully con­tinue to res­onate through­out the com­mem­o­ra­tive year.

To take ad­van­tage of all that’s afoot for UA’s 140th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion visit the web­site at www. uarts.edu.

Dick and Lois Frieder of Elkins Park head off to look for their seats with Janet Kar­don of New York City and Har­vey He­wit of Philadel­phia.

Broad­way ac­tor Les­lie Odom, Jr. (cen­ter) is sur­rounded by David Yager, pres­i­dent of the Univer­sity of the Arts and event em­cee Jeff Ham­mond.

When the din­ner bell rings Jay Devine of Straf­ford es­corts his wife, Brid­get, and Mary Du­den to their ta­ble.

Joyce Burd of Philadel­phia ad­mires the U of A sported cloth­ing worn by Ron and Suzanne Naples of Wyn­newood.

The evening’s hon­orees Eleanor Davis and Stephen Taran­tal await the award cer­e­monies.

Univer­sity of the Arts board chair­man Brian Ef­fron of Bryn Mawr es­corts wife Sherry to their ta­ble.

Physi­cian Bob Perkel and the Mann Cen­ter’s pres­i­dent and CEO Cathy Cahill get their party mood go­ing.

Alita Moses and Thor Web­ster Booker take a gan­der at the mas­ter­fully dec­o­rated ball­room of the Belle­vue Ho­tel.

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