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May 22. 2014 8:34PM

Colby-Sawyer gets $3 million gift toward arts center


Colby-Sawyer College senior Will Shearer '14 and Assistant Professor Mary Mead, who teaches printmaking, lift a print from his woodcut block. (COURTESY)

NEW LONDON — A Colby-Sawyer College alumna is donating $3 million toward the school’s planned $21 million new arts center.

Colby-Sawyer president Thomas C. Galligan Jr. said the donation “was a wonderful gift from two wonderful people who really care about the arts at Colby-Sawyer,” referring to the gift-givers, Bill and Sonja Davidow of Woodside, Calif.

Sonja Davidow is a member of the Class of 1956; Bill Davidow is a Dartmouth College graduate.Their gift will help build the planned 60,000 square-foot arts center, which will be located on the east end of campus with views of Mount Kearsarge and will serve as the anchor in the academic quad.

The arts center project is “a critical next step in the further development of Colby-Sawyer’s physical campus, and will provide a home for the growing arts programs under one roof,” Galligan said.

The building will benefit all of the college’s approximately 1,400 students, as all graduates of Colby-Sawyer must take at least one arts class, Galligan said. About 10 percent of the college population are arts majors; the college offers arts and fine arts majors.

Building the new center was a major component of the school’s updated Master Plan of 2012.

“We think that an education in arts is critical to a liberal arts education,” Galligan said. “It helps the students tremendously. Almost every job out there requires creativity, and the arts brings that out of students.”

Getting a $3 million contribution for the ongoing capital campaign for the center was a nice surprise, Galligan said.

“It’s an incredible momentum-builder,” Galligan said. “On rare occasions, we are given opportunities to make an extraordinary difference. This is one of those times in Colby-Sawyer’s history.”

The Davidows were glad to give back to Sonja Davidow’s school. She is a former trustee of the college.

“My grandfather was an artist. I don’t think he did anything else but paint. That was his life, and I thought, what a wonderful thing to be able to do that and support his lifestyle, which many artists can’t,” Sonja Davidow said. “Art, whether painting, photography, or whatever it happens to be, is very important, and we want to ensure that Colby-Sawyer students have the opportunity to study and practice art in a beautiful space.”

dseufert@newstote.com


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