Internationally acclaimed broadcast journalist Barbara Walters announced today that she has donated $1million to Sarah Lawrence College to support a permanent public exhibition gallery in the soon-to-be constructed Monika A. and Charles A. Heimbold, Jr. Visual Arts Center.
The announcement was made at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the 61,000 square foot center, the centerpiece of a $25 million building project to be completed in the fall of 2004, that will reflect "a new vision for the way the arts are taught" said College President Michele Tolela Myers.
"Sarah Lawrence is delighted to have the opportunity to honor our distinguished alumna and to recognize her contributions to the College by naming the gallery the Barbara Walters Exhibition Gallery," said President Myers. The gallery will be the most prominent space in the new visual arts center, designed by Polshek Partnership Architects, to meet the increasing — and changing — demands for studies in the visual arts and visual culture at Sarah Lawrence. It will be open to the public and will display works of prominent artists as well as the work of faculty and students.
In a letter to the Board of Trustees of Sarah Lawrence College, Walters wrote:
"I am so excited about the new visual arts center and would like to support this effort as an expression of my belief that the arts matter and should be supported, and that the unique kind of education the College offers — the Sarah Lawrence Difference, as we call it — needs to be preserved."
The Sarah Lawrence Difference: Preserve It. Enrich It, is a comprehensive $75 million campaign that includes the visual arts center as well as funds for scholarships, faculty support, technology and renovation of spaces for living and learning, all intended to help maintain the distinctiveness of the Sarah Lawrence education and its unique role in higher education. Focused on learning "in the singular," Sarah Lawrence has one of the lowest student to faculty ratios (9:1) in the country with small classes and individual conferences between students and their professors.
In addition to her desire to support the arts, Walters has said that she contributed the sizable gift to the College, the largest donation she has ever made, because she loved her experience at Sarah Lawrence and has "great admiration for Dr. Myers." She has further stated that she wants to help inspire others to give to the campaign. Walters joins other lead donors to the visual arts center including the Heimbolds, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman through Newman's Own, Josephine Merck, Pamela Howard, Ruth Leff Siegel, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas Lee and Margot Bogert.
Founded in 1926, Sarah Lawrence is a liberal arts college for men and women with a distinctive system of education that fosters close contact between students and faculty and includes the integration of the arts within the curriculum.