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Commencement 2014

June 2014 

Alvin Ailey Artistic Director Delivers 2014 Commencement Address
Robert Battle Keynote Address

Robert L. Battle (right), artistic director of the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, delivered the keynote address at the University's 136th Commencement ceremony held May 15 at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. The award-winning dancer and choreographer also received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from UArts President Sean T. Buffington, who presided over the celebration. Other honorees included bassist / producer / musical director Adam W. Blackstone BM '04 (Instrumental Performance) [Justin Timberlake, Rihanna] and Emmy Award-winning TV and film sound editor Jeffrey Stern BFA '75 (Film) ["Boardwalk Empire," "Goodfellas"], who each received the Silver Star Outstanding Alumni Award. Nijel C. Taylor BFA '14 (Graphic Design) delivered a moving valedictory speech that earned him a standing ovation for his inspirational words, while Josh Levitas BFA '00 (Illustration) greeted the soon-to-be alumni as a member of the UArts Alumni Council. 



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More Praise for Professor's Book from 'Entertainment Weekly,' 'Glamour,' Amazon

The Blessings The Blessings by Assistant Professor and Creative Writing Director Elise Juska continues to earn raves: it's on Entertainment Weekly's May 23 "Must List" of "The Top 10 Things We Love This Week," is No. 1 on's "Best Books of Summer 2014" list, is an "Best Beach Read" and was featured in the May 15 issue of Philadelphia City Paper. The recently released novel received early praise from Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and Philadelphia Style magazine, and was also named a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection for Summer 2014. Juska, who received the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award at UArts' 136th Commencement, also won the Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction from Ploughshares for her short story "Transfer Station."  

Wood Student Wins $15,000 Windgate Fellowship

Backyard Wrestling by Colin Pezzano 14 (Crafts)

Colin Pezzano BFA '14 (Craft & Material Studies) has been named a 2014 Windgate Fellow by the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design. Awarded to 10 graduating college seniors from across the country with exemplary skill in craft, each Windgate Fellowship winner receives $15,000, one of the largest awards offered nationally to art students.



Right: Pezzano's "Backyard Wrestling." 
Portrait by Illustration Professor on 'Sports Illustrated' Cover  

Adam Silver SI cover

Illustration Professor Tim O'Brien's portrait of new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is featured on the cover of the May 26 issue of Sports Illustrated. The award-winning illustrator, who is best known as the creator of the iconic "mockingjay" logo used in The Hunger Games book and movie series, has also done portraits of Osama bin Laden and Kim Jong-un for the cover of Time magazine, President Obama for Rolling Stone, and Steve Jobs for The Wall Street Journal.

See the SI cover >>

MoMA Design Store Features Alum's Wooden Watches  

Carpenter Watch by Lorenzo Buffa 12 (ID)

The Carpenter Watch (right), the first-ever gender-neutral all-wood watch created by UArts alumnus Lorenzo Buffa BS '12 (Industrial Design), is included in the Museum of Modern Art Design Store's Kickstarter@MoMA presentation. The wooden timepiece is one of 24 Kickstarter-funded projects hand selected by MoMA's curators that are available for purchase in the museum's shop in New York City and online for the next two months. An extremely successful Kickstarter campaign helped launch Buffa's  Analog Watch Co., a senior thesis project turned thriving business, which also got its start with a Creative Incubator/Wells Fargo Fellowship Grant from the University's Corzo Center for the Creative Economy. Buffa has also just opened a retail store on East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia.


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Read a Philadelphia Inquirer article about Buffa >>
Brind School Head Directs New Play with Tony Winner Stew

Joanna Settle Stew
Joanna Settle (pictured left), the newly appointed director of the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts, is directing a new play titled "Family Album" with Tony Award-winning playwright Stew (pictured right) and his musical partner Heidi Rodewald. The play will make its world premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Thomas Theatre on July 1 and run through August 31. Settle, who is a graduate of the Juilliard School's directing program, also directed the Stew/Heidi Rodewald musical "The Total Bent" at the Public Theater in New York City.
Professor Named American Craft Council Fellow

Judith Schaechter

Award-winning stained-glass artist Judith Schaechter, an adjunct professor in the Craft & Material Studies program, has been named a 2014 American Craft Council Fellow. This prestigious award is presented biennially to honor those who have demonstrated outstanding artistic achievement, leadership and service in the field of craft.



Right: "The Battle of Carnival and Lent": stained-glass windows inspired by the architecture and history of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia that were installed in the prison's skylights and arched windows in 2012. 


Young Alumni Challenge: Double Your Gift to the Annual Fund

TJ Walsh 07 (GD)

UArts Trustee Seymour "Sonny" Mandell is helping the University raise its fundraising bar once again by issuing a challenge to our young alumni donors with a little help from alumnus TJ Walsh BFA '07 (Graphic Design) [right]. Thanks to a new challenge made by the Samuel P. Mandell Foundation, all gifts to the Annual Fund from those who graduated from UArts in the last 10 years will be matched one to one, doubling the value of their contribution. Give before June 30 and help us reach the fiscal year-end goal!


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