Ninety-two-year-old Max Kupferberg cut the ceremonial ribbon Monday to mark the completion of renovations to four arts venues on Queens College’s Flushing campus.
Kupferberg and his wife, Selma, who died in January, donated $10 million to the college in 2006, the largest endowment ever given Queens College. Kupferberg, a self-made millionaire, was in the school’s first class when the college opened in 1937.
Renovated were Colden Auditorium, Godwin-Ternbach Museum, Music Building and Goldstein Theatre, all part of the Selma and Max Kupferberg Center for the Visual and Performing Arts. The buildings got new lobbies and facades, landscaping, signage and updated technical and security systems.
Queens College President James Muyskens said that the Kupferberg endowment “is the gift that keeps on giving,” since so many matching grants have been received. “Today, we are celebrating the vision and generosity” of the Kupferbergs, the president added. “Queens College is now firmly on the path of making the Kupferberg Center the best arts center in Queens.”
Muyskens went on to say that the college is not resting on its laurels and is looking to a “Queens Renaissance” in the arts and will expand programs into the community, including through streaming into libraries and schools. “Our aspirations are high,” he said.
Borough President Helen Marshall called the updates “a one-stop cultural magnet,” while City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) pointed to the government and private partnership to make Queens a cultural center.
CUNY Vice Chancellor Iris Weinshall said the arts facilities on campus in the past “lacked cohesion before” and she was proud to point out that the projects were completed on time and on budget.
Kupferberg spoke briefly, noting that Muyskens has had a vision for the arts on campus and it will be “a tremendous operation going forward.” After receiving so much praise and two standing ovations, the philanthropist said: “I hope God is listening.”
A resident of Bayside, Kupferberg and his twin brother worked on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, NM, conducting nuclear research for the first nuclear weapons from 1942 until World War II ended. Later, the twins and two other brothers started Kepco Inc., a Flushing business that specializes in electrical equipment and is still in operation today.