Feigenbaum legacy lives on in visual arts and beyond

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An ambitious plan that juggled scholarship, leadership, and academic expansion finally came to completion this summer. After over a year of construction and the with the help of an $11 million gift from the Feigenbaum Foundation, the renamed Feigenbaum Center for Visual Arts is ready to take on new endeavors from the talented artists of Union College.

A quick study of the refurbished building’s namesake leads Union to two exceptional alumni: brothers Donald and Armand Feigenbaum,’46 and ’42 respectively. The Feigenbaum brothers are longtime benefactors of the College. The College, in return, honored Donald with an honorary doctorate in 1996 and the “Outstanding Engineering Alumnus” award in 2003, and Armand with an honorary doctor of science degree in 1992 and the Alumni Gold Medal in 2012.

The brothers went on to found General Systems Co., an international systems engineering firm based in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Their firm collaborated with governments and corporations to implement operational systems.

Sadly, Donald passed away in 2013 at age 87; Armand passed away in 2014 at age 92. They enforced a philosophy that encompassed Union’s modern values of education: integration of the liberal arts, promotion of leadership, and recognition of merit.

Along with the new features to the Feigenbaum Center and the Visual Arts Department, the Feigenbaum’s gift aims to   grant a four-year need-based scholarship to a Berkshire County student; create a new faculty position in behavioral economics, and expand the already successful Feigenbaum Forum to include national and international speakers of various fields of study. Since the completion of Taylor Music Center and Henle Dance Pavilion, it was only fitting that the Visual Arts Building was next to receive a few upgrades.

With the new Feigenbaum Center for Visual Arts, students and faculty were able to look forward to improved ventilation and more spacious studios and classrooms.

In addition, there are new digital art and drawing studios, more gallery space, expanded photography, painting and printmaking workshops and new student-specific workspaces known as the CoLab to appreciate. All of these additions were made specifically to help improve the work of Union’s talented artists and enhance the art scene. The College has long prided itself in its combined strength of the liberal arts and sciences and the renovation of the formerly Visual Arts Building brings that point home.

Visual Arts Department Chair David Ogawa noted back in 2015 that “this gift… reflects one of the core values of the department: using art to connect the past and the future.”

As the sciences and arts become closer knit, it is fair to say that the Feigenbaums’ vision of education is finally becoming a reality here at Union.

The Feigenbaum Center for Visual Arts is now open for public use. To learn more about the Feigenbaum brothers, be sure to look for their portraits in the first-floor lobby of the administration building.

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