C.A.S.T. Party Celebrates Legacy of Schmidt Family Foundation

Friday, Feb 23, 2024
Michael Horswell, Stacy Volnick, Myrna Skurnick, Dick Schmidt, Doug Campbell

Image: Michael J. Horswell, Stacy Volnick, Myrna Gordon Skurnick, Dick Schmidt, Doug Campbell

Florida Atlantic University’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters’ recent Culture, Arts and Society Today (C.A.S.T.) Party had the largest attendance to date for this annual event. This year’s party, held to raise funds for student scholarships, celebrated the 30th anniversary of the naming of the college by honoring the legacy of Dorothy F. Schmidt and the Schmidt Family Foundation.  

In 1993, FAU commemorated the transformational gift made by Charles E. Schmidt and the Schmidt Family Foundation in naming the college after his late wife, Dorothy F. Schmidt. A gracious patron of the arts, she devoted much of her later life to promoting FAU as a center of academic excellence and a cultural resource for the community. The arts and humanities, the foundation of all learning, grew and developed at FAU through her dedication and inspiration.

“My mother felt that that it was important to bring a cultural arts program to the University, to bring arts to the community, something that was desperately needed,” said Dick Schmidt, son of Dorothy and Charles Schmidt. “She felt that a focus on the arts was vital in higher education, and both my parents thought it was important to support the community in which you’re living.”

Myrna Gordon Skurnick was also honored for her contributions to the arts in South Florida and specifically for her naming of the Theatre Lab Writing Nest, an initiative that brings together the Theatre Lab and the Department of English to encourage new works in American Theatre.

Rounding out the honorees was corporate honoree BrandStar, which recently installed state-of-the-art industry production technology that will especially enrich students studying multimedia production, broadcast journalism, short film and video, and digital production. Students in commercial music, theater, political science, as well as students outside of the college will also benefit from this advanced technology. BrandStar is a multi-faceted marketing agency based in Fort Lauderdale, specializing in technology innovation, television production, media strategy and integrated marketing. The company was founded by Mark Alfieri, founder and chief executive officer, and Doug Campbell, co-founder and chief revenue officer.

Three-time Tony Award nominee Marc Kudisch ’88 headlined the event, which was emceed by Jamie Ostroff, investigative reporter at WPTV Television. Other entertainment included the FAU Jazz Band, Phil Hinton on piano, Juan Peña (FAU ’16) on guitar, Ryan Townsend and Mitchell Hutchings with musical theatre, visual arts pop-ups, and the FAU commercial music band.

Chairpersons for the CAST Party evening were Melanie Cabot, chair of the Dean’s Advisory Board, and members Maurice D. Plough and Beth K. Schwartz. CAST host committee members included Alisa Cohen, Nancy Dershaw, Silvana Halperin, Andrea J. Karsch, Bonnie and Jon Kaye, Deborah L. Kull, Jo-Ann H. Maynard and Linda Satz.

Sponsors included Marilyn and Jay Weinberg, the Schmidt Family Foundation, Marta and Jim Batmasian, the Barry and Silvana Halperin Foundation, Inc., Arthur Gutterman, Margie and Maurice D. Plough, Linda and Joe Satz Trustees, Mandell Weiss Charitable Trust, Melanie Cabot, Beth K. Schwartz, Sharon DiPietro, Fidelity Investments, JM Family Enterprises, Inc., Kaye Communications PR & Marketing, Mithun Family Foundation, The Boca Raton, Alisa and Dr. Richard Cohen, Liz and Jason Hagensick, Bonnie Halperin and Family, Sally and Dick O’Loughlin, Linda and Jay Rosenkranz, Myrna Gordon Skurnick, Mark Swillinger, Marilyn Wallach, and Judith and Dr. Howard Weiner. The Boca Raton Observer was the exclusive media sponsor.

All proceeds from the event will benefit student scholarships for the Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. The college houses 21 academic programs including the School of the Arts, along with humanities degrees, social science degrees, and the areas of communication and architecture. The college also houses the Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights; the Center for the Future Mind; Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies; Global Studies; Jewish Studies; among others.

For more information about the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, visit fau.edu/artsandletters