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Texas couple strengthens commitment to SUNY Potsdam arts festival

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POTSDAM — It is a gift that keeps on giving — even to the givers.

Kathryn K. Lougheed, a 1954 SUNY Potsdam graduate, and her husband, Donald L., were so impressed with the effects of their planned gift to the university, they decided to make it outright.

“We didn’t see any reason why we shouldn’t — it seems like a good idea,” she said. “It is a wonderful thing to be able to enjoy this in your lifetime. We found that out last year.”

The Lougheeds’ donation was used to establish the Lougheed Festival of the Arts, a nine-day celebration of music, writing, theater, dance and visual arts.

“This is an endowment, and we intend this to go on for all of our lifetimes; every year we’ll have a festival for the arts in Potsdam,” Mr. Lougheed said.

The gift, for an undisclosed amount reported to be the largest in SUNY Potsdam’s history, was not officially received by the university last year, but Mr. and Mrs. Lougheed agreed to finance it while they were still alive, meaning the college can use any income generated by their bequest through interest.

It was a remarkable gift, said Jason N. Ladouceur, director of planned giving.

“This doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “A gift like this has the ability to transform the institution and provide a lasting benefit to the community.

After attending the first annual Lougheed Festival of the Arts last spring, the Lougheeds were overwhelmed about the impact their donation made.

“We were in tears all the time we were there. The students were so appreciative,” Mrs. Lougheed said. “They went on in detail about the differences we had made. It wasn’t us, it was all the work done by the students themselves. They were very grateful, we were pretty amazed really that there was that reaction.”

For Mr. and Mrs. Lougheed, who live in Austin, Texas, an investment in arts education is wise.

“I was never interested in history until I became an art docent at the museum here in Austin and I started to learn more about history and art history,” Mrs. Lougheed said. “It is an avenue to other things. To me, the art is the frosting on the cake. Without art, I think my life would be very humdrum.”

New York would have better teachers and schools by promoting arts in education, Mr. Lougheed said.

“It exposes future teachers and other professions to the arts and helps them develop new ways of thinking and new ways of acting and new ways of transmitting to their students,” he said.

Last year the arts festival brought NPR host Grant Barrett, sculptor Joe Bova, playwright and actor James Fluhr and a melange of work across disciplines by students, faculty and staff.

This spring, the Lougheeds will again make the trek from Texas in an RV to their summer home in Northville, taking the time to attend the festival that bears their name.

The 2013 festival kicks off April 26 and will culminate with the annual Crane Chorus and Crane Symphony Orchestra spring performance May 4.

For more information, visit www.potsdam.edu/about/artscampus/artsfestival/index.cfm.

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