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Gerald and Sandra Lippes Complete $1 Million Commitment to UB's 'Generation to Generation' Campaign

By Mary Cochrane

Release Date: April 28, 2004

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Gerald S. Lippes, J.D. '64, a distinguished attorney and University at Buffalo Council member, and his wife, Sandra F. Lippes, B.A. '84, have pledged $1 million to UB, $700,000 of which will go to the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) to establish an interdisciplinary graduate degree program in arts administration. The program would be unique among arts administration curricula nationwide in its integration of the arts with professional programs in law and management.

CAS Dean Uday P. Sukhatme said the Lippes' vision and leadership make possible the development of an innovative academic venture that ultimately will benefit business, arts and culture in Western New York and beyond.

"The Master of Arts in the Humanities/Arts and Cultural Administration Program will enhance our ability to work hand-in-hand with professionals and organizations to ensure the continued growth and stability of the visual and performing arts and culture in our community and throughout the world," Sukhatme said. "Mr. and Mrs. Lippes have generously committed their time, talent and treasure to this program so it can emerge as a vibrant and unique offering that brings research and education in the arts to a new level of excellence."

The balance of the Lippes' pledge has funded an interdisciplinary program involving the UB Law School and UB School of Management.

In honor of their generous commitment, the university will be naming the performance space in Slee Hall on the North (Amherst) Campus, the Gerald S. and Sandra F. Lippes Auditorium.

Lippes, a 1964 graduate of the UB Law School, is founder and managing partner of the law firm of Lippes, Silverstein, Mathias & Wexler LLP. He has served on the University Council since 1997, is a trustee emeritus of the UB Foundation, former chair of the Dean's Advisory Council of the Law School, and a 1995 recipient of the Jaeckle Award, the highest honor presented by the law school and the UB Law Alumni Association. In addition, he served as a member of the National Campaign Steering Committee for the recently completed and highly successful "Campaign for UB: Generation to Generation." Mrs. Lippes graduated from UB in 1984 with a bachelor's degree in psychology.

Lippes said his work on numerous cultural boards led him to support the development of the UB arts administration program.

"Arts and culture are growth industries in Western New York dependent upon the talents and expertise of trained managers with a genuine commitment and understanding of the arts, as well as strong business skills," Lippes said. "As established organizations grow and new arts organizations appear, the demand for well-trained arts managers is increasing. Training in management, fund raising, financial accounting and marketing is much needed by managers and artists who have extensive backgrounds in the arts, but not in business. UB, a premier research-intensive public university with state-of-the art facilities, renowned faculty, and skilled professional staff, is positioned to provide the resources and necessary training."

Nationally, there are 5,580 museums, historic sites and similar institutions, as well as 9,199 performing arts organizations. In New York State, there are approximately 1,800 museums, 1,000 galleries and 2,000 performing arts organizations. In Western New York, the totals are 175 museums, 78 art galleries and more than 300 theaters, concert facilities and other cultural organizations.

The arts and cultural administration program is expected to launch in September 2005, following approval by the State University of New York and the New York State Education Department.

Sukhatme said the UB program would fulfill the need for administrators in the visual and performing arts who have been trained across the disciplines for careers in the increasingly complex field of arts management.

"While there are approximately two dozen arts administration programs nationwide, none represent the integration of arts with professional programs in both law and management," he said. "The UB program is unique in this sense and it is part of the university's emphasis on program development of the highest level of distinction."

Currently, three schools in New York offer master's degrees in arts administration: Brooklyn College, Columbia University Teachers College and New York University.

"The Arts and Cultural Administration Program will reflect the conviction that arts managers must possess integrated management and financial skills, an understanding of legal issues, knowledge of the artistic process in which they are involved and sensitivity to the dynamics and educational needs of the communities they serve," Sukhatme said.

The interdisciplinary curriculum of the proposed program would be an alliance among UB's College of Arts and Sciences, Law School and School of Management, providing students the skills and knowledge to become administrators in the visual and performing arts who possess critical quantitative, analytic, strategic and professional skills.

Those skills are crucial to becoming a successful manager in the arts, according to Sandra H. Olsen, director of the UB Art Galleries.

"A curriculum that draws from our professional schools can only increase the individual's ability to manage complex, cross-disciplinary and competing problems and tensions that are inherent to arts and cultural business environments," Olsen said.

Thomas Burrows, director of the UB Center for the Arts, agreed, saying that such a curriculum "stresses not only the development of managerial and business competence, but also the development of a vision for the arts in society that will guide students in their professional work."

The program's accelerated curriculum and timing of classes are designed to appeal to those working in the field seeking professional development. A key aspect of the program is the development of a solid and diverse network of peer professionals, an essential tool for any active arts administrator. This network is built through adjunct faculty who are seasoned professionals, the community internship program, a mentor program, visiting lecturers, and advisory board.

Approximately 20 students will be admitted each fall (10 in visual arts and 10 in performing arts). The small class size is designed to foster a high level of excellence and close interaction within the incoming class.

The typical student's first semester will consist of foundation courses; law and business modules would be completed during intersession and summer session, and field specific core courses during the second semester. Internships with local, regional and national arts organizations, as well as capstone projects, would be completed either during the last intersession or the following semester. Students who already have completed some of the foundation courses through another graduate degree program will be encouraged to take additional elective courses in their area of interest.

The UB Anderson Gallery on Martha Jackson Place near UB's South (Main Street) Campus, which serves as the university's museum for its permanent art collection and site for museum studies, and the UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts on the UB North Campus, dedicated to temporary exhibitions, along with Center for the Arts theaters, shops, and service areas, will serve as laboratories for the program.

Lippes and his wife, Sandra, are co-founders of the Gerald and Sandra Lippes Foundation, which supports Western New York programs involving the arts and higher education, as well as health and human-services organizations.

Former board chairman of Kaleida Health Systems, Lippes last year received a lifetime achievement award for service to his profession from the Business Leadership for Buffalo-Niagara Region. He serves on the board of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy and is a member of the New York State Council on the Arts. He also is a board member at Gibraltar Steel and Protective Industries, and previously was a director of Mark IV Industries and other private companies.