One award winner was praised for the versatility that helped him shift from being a symphony percussionist to a new role as the singer in a pop band. Another was touted for one of his earliest professional roles — Santa Claus at Radio City Music Hall. And a third was extolled by alumnus Jason Alexander (CFA’81, Hon.’95) for giving him “the best boot in the butt I have ever had the pleasure of receiving.”
The College of Fine Arts presented its 21st annual Alumni Awards in a ceremony on Friday, December 1, at the College of General Studies Sleeper Auditorium. Previous winners determine the winners of the awards, which were given out in five categories this year. Walt Meissner (CFA’81), CFA dean ad interim, said that the recipients are all “dedicated individuals, who have applied what they have learned in an extraordinary way.”
“We are all fortunate to be a part of this dynamic, creative community,” he said.
Ted Atkatz (CFA’93), a percussionist and the recipient of the school of music’s Alumni Award, was unable to travel to the event, so Andre de Quadros, the school’s director, read both Atkatz’s citation and his acceptance speech. De Quadros noted that percussionists are inherently versatile, often “masters of 100 or more instruments, from the timpani to the glockenspiel,” and that Atkatz had further demonstrated his flexibility by leaving the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to serve as songwriter and lead vocalist of the pop band NYCO.
Jim Petosa, the director of the school of theatre, presented the school’s Alumni Award to Brad Oscar (CFA’86), a former Rockefeller Center Santa Claus and an accomplished musical-theater actor, who was nominated for a 2001 Tony Award for creating the role of Franz Liebkind in The Producers. Oscar, like other award recipients, said his training at CFA had been critical to his success. “I have fallen back many times on the things I learned here,” he said. “It is my base, my rock.”
Painter Bruce Herman (CFA’77,’79) was recognized with the school of visual arts’ Alumni Award for art that “has fulfilled the promise of your former teachers,” according to Lynne Allen, director of the school. Herman in turn praised the institution as a place “where truth was spoken and honest grades given.”
James Noone, an assistant professor of scenic design, received the Distinguished Faculty Award, for theater sets that Petosa called “ever careful to leave room for viewers’ imaginations.”
The Distinguished Service to the College Award went to retired staff member Judith Flynn for 36 years of service to CFA in a number of roles, ranging from administrative assistant to assistant director of the school of theatre. In introducing Flynn — whom Alexander credited for the “boot in the butt” he needed to launch his acting career — Meissner described her as a hero, in the literary and dramatic senses. “A hero is an illustrious warrior,” he said, “and everyone who knows Judy knows this is exactly what she is.”
“Simply put, she ran the school,” he said. “And simply put, it would not be the school it is today without her.”
Jessica Ullian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.