Saint Mary's College celebrated its new Raymond J. Syufy Performing Arts Hall on Sunday, September 14, with a building dedication and opportunity to see the space in use by music, dance, and theatre students. The event included the blessing of the building as well as remarks by performing arts faculty members Frank Murray, Martin Rokeach, and Cathy Davalos; Raymond W. Syufy '84 and Joseph E. Syufy '87; dance student Elizabeth Thompson '04; and Brother Craig J. Franz, FSC, president of Saint Mary's College. The program also featured adjunct instructor of music Mary Fettig performing "The Bells of Saint Mary's" on the late Raymond J. Syufy's saxophone.
"As is true of most good things in life, this day of celebration is possible because of the best efforts and the deep commitment of many people who care about Saint Mary's College," Brother Craig told the gathered crowd, extending gratitude to the Syufy family as well as to an anonymous donor who, together, donated the $3.8 million that helped make the new performing arts space a reality.
Syufy Hall is connected to the College's LeFevre Theatre and contains such amenities as music practice rooms, a dance studio, and a scene shop. The building's design creates a gateway from the nearby residence halls to the central campus, surrounding passing students in the performing arts.
"I've been teaching at Saint Mary's College for nineteen years, and this is probably the sweetest moment of my career," Rokeach said during the dedication ceremony. "Somehow, art is a fundamental component of being human. This building sends a clear message to performing artists: This College supports you. It understands your creativity."
The Syufy family has a long and close relationship with Saint Mary's. Raymond J. Syufy '40, founder of Century Theatres, served on the Board of Regents from 1970 to 1993 and as a College trustee from 1979 to 1989. His son Raymond W. Syufy, now chief executive officer of both Century Theatres and Syufy Enterprises, is a current Board of Regents member. Joseph Syufy serves as president of Century Theatres and Syufy Enterprises. A third Syufy sibling, Michelle (Syufy) Growney, is a 1988 Saint Mary's graduate.
-- by Amy DerBedrosian