Columbia University School of the Arts will hold its Celebration of Graduates at 2:00pm on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Miller Theatre on the Morningside Campus. Graduates of the School's Master of Fine Arts programs in Film, Theatre Arts, Visual Arts and Writing, and the Master of Arts in Film Studies will be recognized by Carol Becker, Dean of Faculty, program chairs Ira Deutchman, Arnold Aronson and Gregory Amenoff, and poetry concentration director Lucie Brock-Broido.
Motion picture executive and producer David V. Picker will address the graduates, and Dean Becker will make a special presentation to visionary champion of art and artists Emily Fisher Landau, who will be named Honorary Professor of the Arts. Earlier in the day, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger will present film faculty member Eric Mendelsohn with the 2012 Presidential Award for Outstanding TeachinG. Dean Becker will again recognize Professor Mendelsohn during the School of the Arts' ceremony.
David V. Picker is a third-generation motion picture executive and producer. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College in 1953, he joined United Artists Corporation, managing a series of businesses that, in addition to film, included United Artist Records. He was named President and Chief Operating Officer of United Artists Corporation in 1969 and Chief Executive Officer in 1970. There he was responsible for bringing to the company such films as Tom Jones, the James Bond series, Woody Allen's early films, the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night and Help!, Midnight Cowboy and Last Tango in Paris, among others. Among the many European filmmakers he brought to the United Artists were Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Francois Truffaut, Louis Malle and Sergio Leone. As an executive at such companies as Paramount, Lorimar and Columbia, Picker acquired and/or supervised the development and production of such classic films as Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Heaven Can Wait, Ordinary People, Being There, An Officer and a Gentleman, Hope and Glory, and The Last Emperor. He additionally discovered and joined forces with Steve Martin and produced The Jerk, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and The Man with Two Brains, all directed by Carl Reiner. Mr. Picker is a member of the Writers Guild of America East, the Producers Guild of America and is Chairman Emeritus of the Producers Guild of America East.
Emily Fisher Landau is an art collector, philanthropist and champion of art and artists. She and her late husband, Martin Fisher, began collecting art in the 1960s and, since the early 1980s, she has focused on building an important collection of contemporary American art. She has amassed a collection of more than 1,000 works by contemporary artists such as Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Agnes Martin, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Ellsworth Kelly, Matthew Barney, and Kiki Smith. In 1991, she established the Fisher Landau Center for Art, a 25,000 square-foot exhibition and study facility in Long Island City, Queens. Designed by Max Gordon in association with Bill Katz, the Center is devoted to art education and the exhibition and study of the Fisher Landau collection of contemporary art. The Columbia University MFA Thesis Exhibition has been held there since 2008 and is currently on view at the Center through May 20. Mrs. Landau is a trustee of the Whitney Museum of Art, an honorary overseer of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and an honorary director of the Metropolitan Opera. In 2008, Mrs. Landau was a co-producer of the Broadway productions of Passing Strange and Equus. She and her family are Benefactors of the University.