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Rutgers College alumna Marlene A. Tepper and her husband, David A. Tepper, of Livingston, N.J., have pledged $3.4 million to the Mason Gross School of the Arts. The gift stipulates $3 million for the first endowed faculty chair at the school, in the Visual Arts Department; the remainder will support scholarships in the painting program.

“Marlene Tepper has provided the means for taking this already distinguished program to an even higher level,” says George B. Stauffer, dean of the Mason Gross School. He points to the department’s long tradition at the heart of the American avant-garde, with professors George Segal, Roy Lichtenstein, and Geoffrey Hendricks serving as seminal figures in the Pop Art and Fluxus movements.

“Rutgers University has a long and proud tradition of excellence in visual arts education,” Marlene Tepper says. “David and I hope that this endowed faculty chair, combined with these additional scholarships, will provide even greater opportunities for Rutgers students to excel in the visual arts.”

Rutgers has attracted numerous top-notch scholars and teachers by establishing faculty chairs. A faculty chair may be extended to outstanding professors, within the university or from the outside, who have demonstrated consistent excellence in teaching, research, and public service. The endowment may support salary as well as research projects and travel to conferences.

“The greatest significance of The Marlene and David Tepper Chair in Visual Arts may be found in its inherent good will and optimism,” says Mason Gross painting professor Tom Nozkowski. “A real faith in the future of the visual arts can be located here, as well as a deep commitment to the nurturing possibilities of a studio education. Generations of young artists will feel the impact of this endowment.

“Mentoring remains the great paradigm of a studio education,” he continues. “The Tepper Chair will allow the Mason Gross School to bring an artist and educator of the highest stature to work on a continuing basis with our students. If art works are gifts to the world—and we believe they are—then this gift, enabling young artists to develop their craft and make wonderful things, is doubly generous.”

Stephen Westfall, another painting professor at Mason Gross, agrees.

“Marlene Tepper's remarkable gift enables us to support both deserving graduate and undergraduate students and appoint a distinguished American painter to an endowed chair,” he says. “Marlene's gift is a cornerstone to building one of the best art departments in the country.”

The Tepper gift was a major donation to the Rutgers University Foundation’s $1 billion fundraising campaign.

Photo by Larry Levanti

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