Devoted Mary Baldwin supporter and internationally renowned sculptor Betty Gold has donated $2.5 million to help the university streamline its academic structure and strengthen its focus on delivering an interdisciplinary, skills-based education centered in liberal arts traditions.
“The Betty Gold College of Arts and Sciences will ensure that the core majors of the liberal arts, sciences, and humanities, and a rich slate of interdisciplinary minors continue to be central to Mary Baldwin’s mission,” said president Pamela R. Fox in a statement announcing the gift. “An endowment will support the continued innovation of these core disciplines to adapt to focus on the biggest questions of our times, to lead in a digital world, and to support our faculty in ongoing currency of research and pedagogy.”
The addition of the new, named college — along with the recently formed Palmer College of Business and Professional Studies, and the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences in 2014 — completes an initiative to restructure the university’s primary academic umbrella.
The Gold College will be headquartered in Rose Terrace, listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It was once home to MBU presidents in the 30s, 40s, and early 50s; served as a dormitory for students; was the French House in the 1960s; and has accommodated faculty offices in recent years. It will serve as an umbrella for MBU’s School of Visual and Performing Arts, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and School of Science. Professor and former visual and performing arts dean, Paul Menzer, has been named its vice president and dean.
“It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate name for the college of arts and sciences, since Betty Gold’s work manifests the creativity of the arts, and the precision of the sciences,” Menzer said. “It is therefore both a beautiful name, and an entirely fitting one. My colleagues and I wish to express our profound gratitude and abiding commitment to live up to it.”
Gold has led a profoundly successful artistic career spanning more than 50 years. She rose to prominence in the early 1970s creating monumental, geometric works. She has since been featured in more than 130 major solo and group exhibitions at prominent art venues throughout the world. Her pieces can be found in 80 countries, and are housed in more than 75 notable permanent collections — including those of the Es Baluard Museu d’Art Contemporani in Palma, Spain, the Presidential Garden in Slovakia, South Korea’s National Museum of Contemporary Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and many others.
Gold has donated six large sculptures to MBU since 2000, making it home to the largest collegiate collection of her work. Despite never attending the university, she has become a steadfast ally — and her support was recognized in 2014 with an honorary doctoral degree.
“The first time I visited Mary Baldwin, I felt an immediate connection to the school,” Gold said. “I’d always dreamed of going to college, but when I was young, girls just weren’t encouraged to go to school to become artists. I’ve had a wonderful, successful life as a professional artist, but sometimes I wonder: ‘What if I’d had the chance to go to a place like Mary Baldwin when I was young?’ Maybe things would have turned out different [and for the better].”
Gold hopes that her sculptures and financial support will help MBU inspire future generations of artists and students to be creative and ambitious in pursuing their dreams. She says this applies to young women in particular.
No one should have to look back and “ask herself ‘What if?’,” said Gold. She says that, at MBU, students are empowered to discover “there are no limits to what [they] can become.”
Gold recently named Mary Baldwin the recipient of a special collection of personal artworks and complete artistic memorabilia spanning her 40-year development as an artist.
Her sculptures, paintings, textiles, and other works will be displayed in Rose Terrace and other campus buildings associated with the new college. The artist’s archive will create a destination for young artists and scholars interested in researching Gold’s work and career, and a hotspot for art tourism. A dedication ceremony is slated to be held upon their arrival in April 2023.
Fox acknowledged the symbolic power of Gold’s support when announcing the new college during her annual State of the University address. There she called the naming of an academic college “one of the highest and most distinctive honors.”
“It is reserved for discrete individuals whose values align best with the specific college, and whose name would bring distinction and increased credibility to programs,” Fox continued. “Your corpus of work as an artist truly embodies what the power of art and science, cultural and humanities, and timeless transcendent concepts inspire. It is with deep gratitude and pride that I can say Mary Baldwin students will get to know your story, draw inspiration from it, and relate it to their creative journeys for generations to come.”
“No one should have to look back and ask themselves ‘What if?’ Mary Baldwin empowers students to discover there are no limits to what they can become.”
Renowned Artist & Sculptor Betty Gold