Commitment of community members positions Lesley University as artistic hub, boosts programs
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Lesley University is honored to have been the recipient of such philanthropic leadership especially in recent years. The commitment of resources by a number of donors is giving life to the vision of the university’s $46 million Lunder Arts Center in Cambridge’s Porter Square.
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 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, 93,000-square-foot Lunder Arts Center, now under construction in the 1800 block of Massachusetts Avenue, marries history to contemporary design and will include a four-story structure connected by a dramatic, three-story glass-walled commons to the historic former North Prospect Church. The church itself is being moved in December to an adjacent lot, restored and renovated to accommodate an arts library and art-making studios.
“Nearly half of all Lesley students are engaged in the arts in some way,” said Stan Trecker, Dean of Lesley University College of Art and Design. “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 and 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 technology in education 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 will be recognized with a gallery named in their honor.
Trustees Jana Karp (Class of ’06), Barbara Weinstein Russell (Class of ’68), Chair Deborah Schwartz Raizes (Class of ’69), and 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.”
The historic church was moved in early December and is being restored to house the arts library and art-making studios. The new Lunder Arts Center will feature art exhibition spaces that invite the public in while enlivening the streetscape of Porter Square. The Lunder Arts Center is due to be completed in January 2015.
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