A number of Hamptons celebrities and elite were among the nearly 700 guests gathered to honor art and education benefactor Dorothy Lichtenstein, of Southampton, at the annual Stars of Stony Brook Gala at the Chelsea Piers’ Pier Sixty on Wednesday. The philanthropist and wife of the late artist Roy Lichtenstein was recognized for her long-running support of a host of arts, cultural and science initiatives at the University, including the Stony Brook Southampton creative writing and film programs.
Since its inception in 2000, the Stony Brook Foundation’s Stars of Stony Brook Gala had raised $50 million to support student scholarships and a featured academic program of excellence. This year’s Gala adds a new record with over $7.1 million raised, including a $5 million donation from Lichtenstein earmarked to support Stony Brook Southampton’s creative writing and film programs and a variety of scholarships and educational initiatives.
Lichtenstein, who has served as a Stony Brook Foundation trustee since 2008, was saluted by arts and media luminaries led by CBS newswoman Jane Pauley and her husband, Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who created special art for the Gala invitation and program. IMAX CEO and Stony Brook Foundation Chair and Gala Co-Chair Rich Gelfond and his wife Peggy, Foundation Chair Emeritus Jim Simons, Stony Brook University President Samuel Stanley Jr, M.D., and author and Stony Brook Southampton writing professor Roger Rosenblatt feted Lichtenstein’s contributions in speeches.
A host of renowned authors and visiting professors, including Amy Hempel, Patty Marx, Melissa Bank, Cornelius Eady, Susan Minot and Emma Walton Hamilton, were on hand, along with Killer Films’ Christine Vachon, a producer of 60 films, such as Boys Don’t Cry, who also serves as Artistic Director of Stony Brook’s film programs on the Southampton and NY campuses.
In a video played during the dinner, Amagansett’s Alec Baldwin, Academy Award-winning actress and East Hampton resident Mercedes Ruehl, and celebrity chef and The Chew co-host Carla Hall were among the friends who lovingly and humorously toasted Lichtenstein for her support of efforts that are helping to give birth to a generation of filmmakers, writers and fine artists.
SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson and SUNY Board Trustee Merryl Tisch were also in attendance.
“For well over a decade, Dorothy has helped foster the creativity of a new generation of fine artists, writers, filmmakers and cultural thinkers, ones who are going on from Stony Brook to make our world a fuller, more vibrant place,” said Gelfond, ‘76, Chair of the Stony Brook Foundation and Gala Co-Chair. “Dorothy quietly leads by example, and has been the true hero of the Stony Brook Southampton arts program story.”
“There are a lot of people coming into the program who wouldn’t normally have access to these kinds of classes, professionals and equipment,” Vachon said, adding, “It’s allowing them to get their stories out there, and that’s really thanks to Dorothy.”
Ruehl concurred stating: “This film program is first class, competitive with Columbia and New York. And through it alone, Dorothy is leaving a large footprint on the culture of our times.”
“We’d be nowhere without Dorothy Lichtenstein, we offer her the greatest thanks for her support,” Baldwin said.