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West Coast, East Coast Arts Alumni Gathering

Dean of the Arts David Yager brought his UCSC Arts Development team to a New York event at the Royalton on November 14 to re-connect with our vigorous alumni group in Manhattan. Thanks to creative networking by alumna Molly Findlay, the event brought together three dozen New York area alums, as well as current faculty and members of the Arts Dean's Leadership Board, excited to reunite and receive a personal briefing about the Arts from the dean himself. [Pictured, from left: Sian Foulkes, Jennifer Smith, Molly Findlay, Lisa Dorin, Noel Tolentino and Callie Janoff.]

Findlay, a visual brand strategist, was a key player, along with Arts Director of Development Lesley Brander, in organizing the cocktail hour conversation.  "This was an exciting event," Dean Yager observed,"because it was essentially our first outreach to the New York City alumi group. It provided great networking for and with our Arts alumni."

Networking the New York Arts

Based on a meeting with David Yager that took place on one of the dean's visits to NY, Findlay took the initiative to invite her "many, many alumni friends in NY that had been wanting to reconnect with the campus and the Arts division." High on Findlay's list were Wendy Bryan, CEO of I Heart Guts, Digital Strategist Danielle Gustafson, and curator Lisa Dorin. Yager had asked Findlay to supply a list of names with the added challenge that if she could gather a group to attend a reception, he would make it happen.  Lesley Brander then stepped in to work with Findlay on an invitation list, and the planning began.

The majority of the alumni attending the West Coast/East Coast — Bridging the Gap reception work in the visual arts.  They are artists, photographers, set decorators for print and fashion, brand strategists and digital strategists.  Some are reporters/writers for Wall Street Journal and CNN, others own their own companies. For all involved, including invited arts faculty from UCSC who accompanied the Dean, the chemistry among current, and past members of the campus' Arts community was notable and infectious.

Seeding the Arts of the Future

"We had a turnout of about 30 New York alumni working in the arts who celebrated this event," Brander recalls.  "Some had not seen each other in years and they were all so excited to be reconnected. The Dean spoke about the Arts Dean's Fund for Excellence, the upcoming institute being planned for the Arts and Sciences collaboration, and the arts intern program.  Several of the alumni expressed interest in initiating a visiting artists program, wanting to come back to campus to visit as well as participate in giving. 

For Dean Yager it was another successful outreach moment. "One outcome I am confident about," he notes, "is that this important meeting helped to set the foundations for future internships and new donor opportunities to help support our Arts students and faculty achieve excellence."