Commitment of community members positions Lesley University as artistic hub, boosts programs
Sunday, February 01, 2015
The commitment of resources by many donors has given life to the university’s $46 million Lunder Arts Center in Cambridge’s Porter Square, which houses Lesley’s College of Art and Design.
Chief among the leaders in philanthropy for this project is Lesley Class of 1959 alumna Paula Lunder and her husband, Peter, whose $5 million gift to the university is but a recent example of their longstanding support to Lesley and to the arts.
“The Lunders’ gift is truly transformative,” Lesley University President Joseph B. Moore said. “Their generosity and the arts center that bears their family name comprise the cornerstone of what we envision as the new Porter Square arts district. The Lunder Arts Center is the linchpin of a united Lesley campus in the heart of the city of Cambridge.”
The $46 million, 74,000-square-foot Lunder Arts Center, at 1801 Massachusetts Ave., marries history to contemporary design and includes a four-story structure connected by a dramatic, three-story glass-walled commons to the historic former North Prospect Church. The church itself was moved in December 2013 to an adjacent lot, restored and renovated to accommodate an arts library and art studios.
“Nearly half of all Lesley students are engaged in the arts in some way,” said Dean Emeritus Stan Trecker. “The Lunder Arts Center is a bold symbol of the creativity and innovation that defines Lesley University and will further facilitate our students’ ability to interact with, and learn from, each other as they collaborate across academic disciplines and engage with the surrounding community.”
The Lunders had the foresight to augment the impact of their donation by presenting it as a matching gift challenge, which was answered by many generous Lesley alumni and friends.
“We believe the arts are an integral part of the educational curriculum,” Paula Lunder said, explaining the motivation behind the family’s gift. “It is our pleasure to join alums from many classes as we build an even greater Lesley University.”
Their transformative gift to Lesley is hardly the first example of the Lunder family’s support of the arts. The Lunders also have been generous benefactors to the Smithsonian Institution, Colby College’s Alfond-Lunder Family Pavilion, and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in recent years.
Another alumna to make an extraordinary commitment was Lesley Trustee Carol Moriarty (Class of ’74). Her husband, John’s commercial construction firm, John Moriarty & Associates, is the arts center’s general contractor and also served in that capacity for the new wing of the Museum of Fine Arts. Carol and John were at the vanguard in understanding the significance of Lesley’s project and donated $2 million to make it a reality. In recognition of their leadership, the new arts library is being named in their honor.
“Lesley’s model is innovative in including the arts as a central component of education and fostering healthy communities,” Carol Moriarty said.
Other loyal friends of Lesley who helped launch the Lunder Arts Center project are Lesley professor Nancy Roberts and her husband, Dr. Edward Roberts, the founder of Meditech, as well as Sarnoff professor of management of technology at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. In addition to her leading role in educational programs (Roberts launched Lesley’s master’s program in educational technology and the school’s New Teachers Community), Roberts and her husband have long been generous supporters of Greater Boston’s arts community, including the Museum of Fine Arts.
“Lesley has always been a leader in arts education, which integrates remarkably well with our multifaceted curricula,” she said. “Today it is more important than ever to explore the arts in meaningful ways and to build arts education into every teacher’s knowledge portfolio.” Nancy and Ed Roberts are recognized with a gallery named in their honor.
Trustee Jana Karp (Class of ’06) and the Karp family, Trustee Barbara Weinstein Russell (Class of ’68), Board Chair Deborah Schwartz Raizes (Class of ’69), and Trustee Hans Strauch share a loyal commitment to Lesley that is manifested by their generosity at the $1 million level to the Lunder Arts Center. These champions of education and the arts realize the importance of this initiative for Lesley and the Cambridge community.
Kathleen Dolan (Class of ’89) and the Dolan Family Foundation agree. “Whether as educators, therapists, practitioners or visual artists, Lesley students will be united in this new nexus for the arts in Porter Square.”
"We are deeply appreciative of all of the donors who have made this project a reality, including the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund and many other individuals, corporations and foundations," said Richard Zauft, dean of Lesley's College of Art and Design. The Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund is a program of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, administered through a collaborative arrangement between MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
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