This weekend, June 8-10, is Reunion Weekend at Alfred University, an event that showcases the bonds of friendship as old friends reconnect and as alumni across the generations connect with each other as well as with students, staff, and faculty.
If you have not yet done so, please contact Janet Marble, director of Alumni Engagement to register (607/871-2144). If you have been back to Alfred University for Reunion recently, you know how much fun it is! If you have not been back recently, it’s time to make the trip. Please take a look at this year’s Reunion schedule. Among other activities, we will show the movie Wonder, with its ties to our University, on the Bandstand lawn Friday evening; have a bounce-house for children as well as those of you who have stayed young at heart; provide a State of our University overview; hold gatherings for our 50th year Reunion class of 1968 as well as other milestone classes; and offer some great musical entertainment.
If you need an example of the strength of an Alfred University friendship, consider the magic created by the collaboration of Robert Kalfin ’54, a speech and drama major, who went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree in directing from the Yale School of Drama, and Leah Napolin ’56, an English major. They were both members of the Footlight Club at Alfred University, and studied under Rod Brown and C.D. Smith.
Leah passed away last month of breast cancer. Her obituary in the New York Times recounts the story:
“Ms. Napolin was essentially a playwriting novice when her friend, Robert Kalfin, founder of the Chelsea Theater Center, asked her to take a crack at writing a stage adaptation of a (Isaac Bashevis) Singer short story that had caught his eye called ‘Yentl the Yeshiva Boy.’ It involved a young Jewish woman who disguises herself as a man so that she can be allowed to study the Talmud and enrolls in a yeshiva. The Chelsea Theater Center production opened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1974 and, in October 1975, it made the leap to Broadway, running for 223 performances. Second-wave feminism was ascendant at the time, and ‘Yentl,’ a story about a woman taking control of her own life, reflected the moment.”
Yentl is still being produced worldwide. Leah Napolin also wrote “The Dogs of Pripyat,” which was staged at Alfred University several years ago.
Robert Kalfin is directing the premiere of “The Property,” which opens June 16 at the Clurman Theater. In announcing the new production, Broadway World describes Kalfin as the founder of the Chelsea Theatre Center (winner of five Tony Awards, four Tony nominations, and 21 Obies), who has directed widely on Broadway and Off-Broadway and was named a Legend of Off-Broadway by the Off-Broadway Alliance in 2015.
We’ve recently learned that Leah Napolin’s family is planning to give her writing collection to our University. Her daughters—Margo Katz and Jessica Starke ‘86—will be working over the summer to gather the material. They and Barbara Murphy, Leah Napolin’s wife, plan to deliver it to our campus this fall.
Leah was first married to Bertram “Bert” Katz ’56, a ceramic artist who taught at Ohio State University, Parsons, and New York University. He died in 2012.
Our Performing Arts division has come a long way since the 1950s when Robert Kalfin and Leah Napolin staged productions in Alumni Hall. We are fortunate to have incredible facilities in the Miller Performing Arts Center and Miller Theater to showcase our students’ work, as well as that of visiting artists. Through some internal re-organization that is presently in process we intend to further capitalize on these facilities and our talented faculty and staff to build an even stronger set of performing arts opportunities for our students going forward.
Speaking of the growing luster and impact of the performing arts at Alfred University, the fifth annual MostArts Festival is scheduled for July 8-14. Under the direction of maestro Lisa Lantz, MostArts has quickly become one of the 20 best attended festivals in western New York, drawing performers and attendees from around the globe. It includes a Young Pianist Competition, with a top prize of $10,000; performances by the MostArts Festival Orchestra; a Sound Bite chamber music sampler; a gallery hop; and a series of workshops for aspiring artists, musicians, and writers.
Reunion and MostArts really bring magic to Alfred University! Please join us if you can and bring your friends as well as make some new ones.
P.S. As the academic year draws to a close, we are striving to set a new record of $1.7 million for the Alfred Fund. We have received $1.5 million in cash, with $1.68 million in total pledged to this year’s Alfred Fund. To help us reach our target, an anonymous donor has created a $25,000 challenge gift that will match, dollar-for-dollar, any new gifts made to the Alfred Fund by June 30. If you have already made a pledge for the Alfred Fund this year, please be sure to fulfill it by the end of this month. The relevant mailing address is Advancement Office, Alfred University, One Saxon Drive, Alfred, NY 14802. If you are interested in helping us to realize the full amount of the challenge committed by either making a gift or by adding to your existing investment, please feel free to use this same mailing address or contact Alexandra Argentieri of our Advancement team to pay by credit card (607/871-3173).