Purchase College School of the Arts Dean Ravi Rajan Selected for 2014-15 Tony Award Nominating Committee

ravi tony's

The Tony Awards announced its Nominating Committee for the 2014–15 awards yesterday and Ravi S. Rajan, dean of Purchase College’s School of the Arts, earned a place on the list.

Rajan will attend every new Broadway production this coming season. Last season that numbered about 50, half of which started in the spring. “While being on the committee is a major commitment of one’s time and energy, the effort is worth it, as the TONY awards bring great public value to the theatre by the broad attention the awards attract,” he says.

Along with 49 other theatre professionals that comprise the committee, Rajan will serve a three-year term.

“It is an honor to serve as a nominator for the TONY awards, and help the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League support the work of the men and women that make theatre possible in the US. Starting with our first graduates in the 1970s, a significant number Purchase College alums have made their livings through work in the theatre, so I’m doubly happy that my service on the committee also contributes to the lives of our students, past and present,” he adds.

Rajan has been dean of the School of the Arts at Purchase College since 2012, after serving concurrently as both director of the School of Art+Design and associate dean of the School of the Arts.


Hollywood Reporter Names Purchase College Drama Program As Among the Best

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The Hollywood Reporter asked 60 top casting directors and agents to name the best drama schools in the world and Purchase College ranked 20 in their list of The 25 Best Drama Schools in 2014.

The Purchase College Conservatory of Theatre Arts offers an intensive, highly focused BFA training program in acting and both a BFA and an MFA training program in theatre design/technology for a limited number of students who seek to pursue professional careers in these fields. In addition, the conservatory offers two BA programs in playwriting and screenwriting and theatre and performance.

Learn more about the Purchase College School of the Art’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts.

Image above: from the Purchase College Repertory Theatre (PRT) spring 2014 performance of William Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors, photo by Zoe Markwalter.

Purchase College Students Chosen for SUNY’s Thayer Fellowship and Patricia Kerr Ross Award

Thayer Kerr-Ross awards

Purchase College is proud to announce that two of its 2014 graduates received SUNY-wide awards for achievement in arts.

Madeline Mondrala ’14 (music) will receive $4,000 from the Thayer Fellowship and Gina Mingione ’14 (creative writing and literature) will receive the $1,000 Patricia Kerr Ross Award.

A Thayer Fellowship in the amount of $7,000 is awarded to one student, or shared among several students, who demonstrate outstanding achievement and high professional potential in the arts.

The Patricia Kerr Ross Award, for $1,000, is given to a student, or shared among several students, who have demonstrated excellence, originality, and promise in the arts.

Both awards are intended as a bridge between SUNY study in the arts and entry into a professional career in the arts.

Above: Madeline Mondrala (left) and Gina Mingione (right)
(Mondrala photo by Lauren Berthelot)

Purchase College Community Embodies Sustainability

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On Friday, May 2nd, members of the campus community worked to help reduce the carbon footprint of Purchase College.

For its 9th annual Clean and Green Day, the Purchase College Beautification Committee joined with members of the Facilities Management grounds department and additional staff, faculty, and students to spruce up the area around the Admissions and Human Resources Buildings adding shrubs and flowers to the landscape.

In what has become an annual tradition, the group also planted a tree—this year, a Red Maple (acer rubrum)—in the grassy area adjacent to the driveways that serve the admissions area and the Children’s Center.

Also on Friday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the latest initiative of the Sustainability Committee: the launch of The Rocket composting system. Installed last winter behind Campus Center North, the composting machine will turn food waste from the Hub and coffee grounds from Starbucks into compost to be used mainly in the vegetable gardens maintained by students behind the Dance Building.

Anna Palmer ’15, environmental studies major, pedaled the quadracycle-turned-compost hauler—complete with a sign that reads “Keep Calm and Compost”—that she’ll use to move the food scraps to the composter as the resident “compost master.”

The initiative reflects the college’s commitment to environmental sustainability, as well as its strong tradition of engaging students in community and social activism. Co-chairs of the Sustainability Committee, Assistant Professor of Sociology Matthew Immergut and Associate Professor of New Media, Brooke Singer, spearheaded the effort to bring The Rocket to campus.

“The Rocket is part of a bigger vision of sustainability on campus,” according to Immergut. “In any sustainability program, you need to close the loop. And now, instead of throwing the food away, we’re composting it, and closing the loop.”

Both Immergut and Singer plan to integrate the initiative into their courses.

Immergut plans to incorporate learning about the composter into his environmental sociology class, explaining that, “Recently sociology has become more concerned with ecological issues and environmental activism.” Singer plans to have students in her Information Aesthetics class take raw data from the composter and make it visual. “By building a graphic interface, students can visualize the live data stream from the composter to show how much food is being processed,” she explains.

The Rocket was paid for by the mandatory student Green Fee.

Click here to learn more about The Rocket.

Pictured: Purchase College President Schwarz (center) with Anna Palmer ’15, compost master (right) and friends.

Novel by Purchase College Professor Warren Lehrer Receives Accolades

Warren Lehrer update

Purchase College Professor Warren Lehrer’s latest book, A Life in Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley, was just named Outstanding Book of the Year, Most Original Concept by Independent Publisher. Dubbed the IPPY Awards, they recognize excellence in independent publishing. In January 2014, the College Book Art Association (CBAA) awarded the book Best in Show in its juried exhibition.

Lehrer, professor of Art+Design in graphic design, is widely recognized as a pioneer in the fields of visual literature and design authorship. Nine years in the making, A Life in Books is what Lehrer refers to as an “illuminated novel.”

It’s a memoir of Bleu Mobley, fictional author, journalist, college professor, experimental novelist, and pop-culture pundit, who is whispering his entire life story into a recording device from inside the jail cell he occupies for failing to reveal the name of a confidential source. The autobiography/apologia is “illuminated” by the book jackets, catalog copy, and reviews of the 101 books he has written. Excerpts from 34 of those volumes serve to flesh out his story further.

While the physical book sits at the center, several offshoots of A Life in Books are in the works. The New York State Council on the Arts awarded Lehrer over $20,000 for the development and production of an enhanced e-novel and multi-media performance, “to take advantage of the tablet as a new medium for storytelling.” It will include animation, video, audio, annotations, galleries, an interactive timeline, and crowd-sourcing components.

Another exciting aspect of the e-novel project is the ability to crowd-source the completion of Bleu Mobley’s books based on excerpts provided in the novel. Lehrer invites writers of all stripes to submit short stories that will eventually be published as an e-book. Click here and then click “contest.”

A Life in Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley was published by Goff Books.

Follow links below to hear interviews with Lehrer on NPR-affiliate KCRW’s Bookwormand on NPR’s Studio 360.

KCRW’s Bookworm

NPR’s Studio 360

More on Purchase College School of Art+Design

Purchase College Selected as One of Greenest in the Nation

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Purchase College, SUNY is one of the 332 most environmentally responsible colleges in the U.S. and Canada, according to The Princeton Review.

Purchase earned this distinction for its overall commitment to sustainability in its policies, practices, and programs and for its ambitious goal of reducing energy usage intensity 20% by 2020. With the hire of Senior Energy Manager Tom Kelly in 2013 and the compilation of a comprehensive energy plan, Purchase is poised to meet that goal.

The Princeton Review cited efforts to reduce the college’s carbon footprint through construction projects such as the LEED Silver-certified Humanities Building underway, the installation of the green roof on the Visual Arts Building, and reclamation of 490 tons of construction debris for reuse.

To reduce transportation effects on the environment, Purchase offers the online carpool systems such as Purpool and Zimride, two Zipcars for car sharing, and outlets for charging electric cars. Facilities management utilizes seven electric cars in the maintenance fleet.

The sustainability committee and its management of the Green Fee collected from students, the multiple programs in place by dining services, and the availability of academic programs such as environmental studies all factored into Purchase College’s selection for this list.

“SUNY campuses across the state are among the most energy-smart in the nation, a leadership role that we continue to build upon through the expanded use of green technologies and sustainability initiatives,” said SUNY Chancellor Zimpher.

“Congratulations to Purchase College and all 10 SUNY campuses to be included in the 2014 Guide to Green Colleges. This recognition is much deserved and highly commendable.”

Purchase College professor emerita Nancy Davidson is among 178 scholars, artists, and scientists awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2014

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Purchase College professor emerita Nancy Davidson is among 178 scholars, artists, and scientists awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2014.

Davidson, who taught in the School of Art+Design at Purchase College from 1984 to 2008, is an interdisciplinary artist who works primarily in sculpture and installation. She is known for her inflatable sculptures that wittily explore American iconic imagery and gender issues through abstract forms that suggest sensuous female figures.

In 1992, she began to refocus her work, “Using inflated weather balloons to challenge the notions of contemporary monumental sculpture while simultaneously repurposing comedic tropes of bodily mass, fleshiness and beauty,” according to her biographical statement.

Davidson’s opening night at the Robert Miller Gallery in 2001 fell on 9/11. She watched the World Trade Center towers fall from her studio window, which triggered a new body of work. Thinking about her past and personal mythology, she drew upon her memories of the cowgirl character prevalent in the 1950s. “What began as a childhood attraction to this archetypal American figure became an irreverent reinvention, celebrating and critiquing popular culture, comic humor, and our society’s fascination with the overblown and oversized,” her statement says.

The resulting exhibition, Dustup, was exhibited at the Betty Cuningham Gallery, New York, in the fall of 2012 and an expanded version was exhibited at the Boca Museum of Art in Boca Raton, FL in 2013. Davidson is currently working on a book project Cowgirl: Nancy Davidson to be distributed by DAP Publishers.

In addition to the Guggenheim Fellowship, Davidson’s honors include grants from the NEA; Anonymous Was a Woman Award; Pollock-Krasner Foundation; and Creative Capital.

In its ninetieth annual competition for the United States and Canada, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has awarded 177 Fellowships (including one joint Fellowship) to a diverse group of 178 scholars, artists, and scientists. Often characterized as “midcareer” awards, Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or creative ability in the arts. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and extraordinary promise, the successful candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants.

Here is more information  about Purchase College School of Art+Design

Purchase College Student Steven Brown ’15 Studies Abroad on Gilman Scholarship

steven brown in hungary

Purchase College arts management major Steven Brown ’15 earned a competitive Benjamin A. Gilman International Student award allowing him to study abroad in Budapest, Hungary this semester. One of the first students to participate in the new arts management exchange program, he’s studying at the International Business School of Budapest.

The allure of world travel began for him during his sophomore year as one of two students who represented Purchase College in Tokyo, Japan during the Technos International Week last June. He then spent last summer studying in Madrid, Spain.

Brown is grateful for the assistance he’s received that allows him to travel. In addition to the Gilman award, he’s also received a private College Success Foundation scholarship and in 2013 earned the ACT for Excellence and Student Initiative Scholarship awarded by the Association of Council Members and College Trustees of the State University of New York.

When on campus, Brown is an active member of the Purchase College community and beyond. He’s volunteered for the Project Focus mentoring program with students in Mount Vernon. He’s a resident assistant and this summer he will mentor incoming Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) freshman during orientation week and into the fall semester. Brown is an EOP student and sees himself as a role model.

“As a Latino American, first generation student from New York City studying at Purchase College, I have really worked toward becoming an ambassador for other young people coming from underrepresented families and backgrounds,” he says.

“I have found that some of the most intelligent students often lack in confidence to believe that they, too, can do what I have done and continue to do. As a result, I push as much as I can to advocate for both the Hispanic community as well as the LGBTQU communities. I am a strong believer that some people really just need the support to make the first move,” Brown adds.

Click here for more information about the Purchase College EOP program.

Purchase College Students Receive SUNY Chancellor’s Award Winners for 2014

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Congratulations to Purchase College students Lauren Britton BFA ’14, Michaela Ellingson BFA ’14, and Elizabeth Pysarenko BA ’11 and MA ’14 for their selection as recipients of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence.

On April 2 at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher presented 274 SUNY students with the 2014 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. “Students honored with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence truly embody the power of SUNY,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “As proven leaders and role models, scholar athletes, creative artists, and civic volunteers, each student is recognized not just for academic achievement, but also for the profound impact they have on college campuses and local communities across New York State. Congratulations to all of the students being recognized.”

The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence was created in 1997 to recognize students who have best demonstrated, and have been recognized for, the integration of academic excellence with accomplishments in the areas of leadership, athletics, community service, creative and performing arts, campus involvement, or career achievement.

Lauren Britton is a BFA candidate in the Purchase College School of Art+Design. Selected as the Outstanding Junior in Painting and Drawing last year, she’s also served as a peer advisor, spent three semesters as a teaching assistant, and completed numerous internships. She’s been a resident assistant and an organizer of many student exhibitions including this year’s Senior Painting Class Senior Show scheduled for presentation at two locations in New York City. Her painting Sinking Ship was chosen for the Best of SUNY Art Exhibition last summer while she spent time in Italy at the Siena Arts Institute Portfolio Development program.

A BFA candidate in the Purchase College Conservatory of Dance, Michaela Ellingson has been the class representative for the dance class of 2014 for four years. She’s served as a dance ambassador to prospective students and as a resident assistant for two years. An active dance outreach volunteer, she’s traveled to Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica with JUNTOS Collective to perform at an HIV/AIDS compound, nursing homes, children’s hospitals and orphanages, and art centers, as well as performing for the patients at the Hearthstone Alzheimer Care Facility in New York. Her choreography has been performed in multiple venues on and off campus including the Downtown Cabaret in DUMBO, Brooklyn and at the Salt Dance Fest Showcase.

Elizabeth Pysarenko graduated magna cum laude from Purchase College in 2011 with a BA in art history and continued her studies here in the master’s program in modern and contemporary art, criticism and theory, which garnered her two merit scholarships from the art history board of study. As an undergraduate, she earned the James Greenwood Prize for Best Senior Project in Humanities in 2011 and the President’s Award for Excellence in 2009. In the summer of 2010, she represented Purchase at St. Petersburg State University to explore cultural and social differences between the Russian Federation and the US.

Pictured left to right are Purchase College students Elizabeth Pysarenko, Michaela Ellingson, and Lauren Britton


Purchase College Professor of Music Laura Kaminsky Receives Inaugural Grant for Female Composers from Opera America

Purchase College Laura Kaminsky

Opera America, the national service organization for opera, announced the first round of recipients of its new program, Opera Grants for Female Composers. Congratulations to Purchase College Professor of Music Laura Kaminsky, one of eight composers chosen to receive an award from 112 eligible applications.

Kaminsky will receive $12,500 to support development of her composition As One, a 75-minute-long, multi-chamber opera that explores the revelatory, redemptive journey of a transgender individual wrestling with profound ontological issues. Libretto is by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed.

Kaminsky is a composer with “an ear for the new and interesting” whose works are “colorful and harmonically sharp-edged” (The New York Times), and whose “musical language is compounded of hymns, blues, and gestures not unlike those of Shostakovich” (inTune). Social and political themes are common in her work, as is an abiding respect for and connection to the natural world. The visual is made manifest in sound, with color and image often serving as inspiration. Her music is “full of fire as well as ice, written in an idiom that contrasts dissonance and violence with tonal beauty and meditative reflection.” (American Record Guide)

In addition to her role as professor of music at Purchase College, she is also artistic director of Symphony Space in New York City.