Funds and spirits raised

By Lisa Schulz

Only at Columbia could a night of faculty and staff members voluntarily covered in face paint, fake mustaches and silly masks add up to one of the most productive scholarship fundraisers the college has ever had.

Attendees participated in the third annual Faculty and Staff Scholarship fundraiser on Oct. 25 at Stage Two in the 618 S. Michigan Ave. Building. The event included a silent auction, live music and dance, a talent show, a film screening and a poetry reading. The goal was to exceed the fund’s current balance of $160,000.

Pattie Mackenzie, chair of the event and assistant dean of the School of Media Arts, said the total would not be available until the week after press time.

“It’s great—all these wonderful-looking people in strange outfits and great bands,” said Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Affairs, who was dressed as a Minotaur. “My hat goes off, or should I say my horns, to the organizers of this,” Kelly said. “I love the feel of it and what they’re doing.”

Most of the fundraising was through the silent auction, where party-goers could bid on—as well as sell—any of the items, from handcrafted trinkets and paintings to restaurant gift cards and “Lunch’n’Learns.”

The lunch opportunity was auctioned by Dominic Pacyga, Humanities, History and Social Sciences professor—and allowed bidders to have lunch and an intelligent conversation with him, said Pattie Mackenzie, chair of the event and assistant dean of the School of Media Arts.

Although the auctioned items are donated, the 2011 fundraiser goal may be hard to achieve because faculty and staff have not had a raise, Mackenzie said.

Each dollar donated to the scholarship fund is matched by the college, unless alumni donate a dollar to the scholarship outside of the event. Then, the college adds an additional dollar.

“It’s way too much work when you’re volunteering your time to do it,” Mackenzie said. “It’s really a strain.”

The vastness of the 160-item auction also allows members to explore other departments’ artwork and discover artistic talent that faculty and staff may not otherwise get a chance to display, she said.

“It’s not just a party to have fun,” said Wayne Tukes, event committee member and college adviser. “It’s also to build a sense of community and raise resources for students.”

Tukes said he’d like to see a continuation of new members in order to contribute the most innovative ideas each year.

The committee currently has 25 volunteers, which grew from “a handful” last year but isn’t enough to sufficiently expand the event in the future, Mackenzie said.

A lack of committee members limited the overall attendance capacity to only faculty and staff this year, as it was in previous years, beside student participants from Mackenzie’s Organizational Behavior course in the Arts, Entertainment and Media Management Department.

But with the growing amount of members and new additions to the event, such as the screenings and readings, Mackenzie said preparing for the event was both hard work and a joy. In the future, she’d like to get alumni and students involved, she said.

Kim Livingstone, executive assistant for Campus Environment and Master of Fine Arts alumna, bucked the trend of non-participation by alumni because she was part of the committee.

She said participating in the event gave her an opportunity to meet members of the college and make a difference from a student’s perspective.

“[I’m] very happy with the turnout,” Livingstone said. “Hopefully we can continue this year after year and raise as much money as we can for scholarships for students to continue their education, go out into the world and come back and give to Columbia.”