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1954 graduate’s pledge starts SUNY Potsdam arts festival


POTSDAM — When Kathryn K. Lougheed returned to SUNY Potsdam 57 years after her graduation, she was taken by the differences on the campus.

“I used to live in MacVicar hall, and there was nothing all around except the dorm,” she said. “It’s amazing and it’s beautiful.”

Mrs. Lougheed, a 1954 graduate of the university, and her husband, Donald L., have made the largest contribution by a living donor to SUNY Potsdam, according to Jason Ladouceur, director of planned giving.

“They expressed a willingness to do something in conjunction with our spring concert,” he said. “I mentioned that we used to have a festival, and they were immediately supportive.”

Mr. Ladouceur would not reveal the amount of the Lougheeds’ pledge.

Though the Lougheeds’ donation has not been officially received by the university, they have agreed to finance it while they are still alive, meaning any income through interest generated by their bequest is usable by the university.

“We had already put in our will that eventually the money was going to go to arts education,” said Mrs. Lougheed. “What better place? What better cause? It is important to cultivate the liberal arts attitude in young people.”

Thanks to their money, the university is celebrating the Lougheed-Kofoed Festival of the Arts this week.

“We’ve been amazed by the comments and stories we’ve heard. There’s so much enthusiasm here on campus,” Mr. Lougheed said.

The Lougheeds drove from their Austin, Texas, home to enjoy the performances, exhibits and lectures their generosity has brought to the Potsdam campus.

“It has been very emotional to see how it’s affecting other people,” said Mrs. Lougheed. “I feel blessed that this opportunity has come to me.”

Though she spent more than half a century away from her alma mater, over the years Mrs. Lougheed has cultivated her love of the arts.

“When we first moved to Texas, we were scraping by, but I taught the children piano,” she said. “I dabbled in ceramics along the way. When the children got older, I became a docent at the University Art Museum in Austin, and then I became a docent at the opera.”

Mrs. Lougheed traces her love of the arts all the way back to her days singing in the Crane Chorus in the 1950s.

Each year, Mr. and Mrs. Lougheed drive in an RV from Texas to their summer home in Northville.

“New York is our home,” Mr. Lougheed said. “All of the sudden, everybody starts walking like I walk and talking like I talk.”

The couple are already looking forward to next year’s festival on the campus.

“It doesn’t matter whether it is painting or drama or sculpture or poetry, it is all art,” Mrs. Lougheed said. “I think that it is soul food for some people and people need it.”

This evening, the festival includes a performance of “Our Lady” in the College Theater and a creative writing showcase in the Dunn Dance Theater at 6 p.m. The schedule continues Friday with a 5 p.m. topping-off ceremony for the university’s new performing arts building and a performance of the “Celebration Barn Ensemble” in the College Theater at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday, the festival culminates in a 7:30 p.m. performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Messa de Requiem” by the Crane Chorus and Crane Symphony Orchestra in the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall.

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