State University of New York at Purchase

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State University of New York at Purchase
School logo.jpg
Motto Think Wide Open
Established 1967
Endowment $47.1 million (2012)[1]
President Thomas Schwarz[2]
Provost Barry Pearson[3]
Academic staff 300[4]
Students 4,000
Location Purchase, NY, United States
Campus Suburban, 500 acres (2 km²)[5]
Colors Athletic: Blue and Orange; Traditional: Heliotrope and Puce[6]
Mascot Panther

Purchase College, State University of New York, is a public four-year college located in Purchase, New York, United States. It is one of 13 comprehensive colleges in the State University of New York (SUNY) system. Founded by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1967 as the cultural gem of the SUNY system, Purchase College claims to offer "a unique education that combines programs in the liberal arts with conservatory programs in the arts in ways that emphasize inquiry, mastery of skills, and creativity."[7] Purchase College was ranked 9 in US News and World Report's 2014 listing of top public liberal arts colleges.[8] The college was listed as one of Kiplinger's 100 Best Public College Values in 2014.[9] It was also listed in that publication's 2014 list of Best Values in Small Colleges. The Princeton Review included Purchase College in its 2015 list of The Best 378 Colleges.[10]

Purchase College confers the following degrees: Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), and Master of Music (MM).[11] As a requirement for the BA and BS degree, students undertake a senior project in which they devote two semesters to an in-depth, original, and creative study under the close supervision of a faculty mentor. Similarly, the BFA and MusB studies culminate in a senior exhibition, film, or recital. Master's degree programs culminate in a thesis and the MFA and MM culminate in an exhibition, recital, or related presentation.

Purchase College's main plaza. All academic and service buildings centrally located on the newly renovated plaza.
Purchase College campus at dusk


Purchase College was originally a 500-acre estate and working farm in the 1700s.

The land that would become Purchase College was first settled by the Thomas family in 1734.[12] John Thomas served as an assemblyman in colonial New York from 1743-1776. He served as a judge for the Court of Common Pleas in Westchester and a Muster-Master. Judge Thomas was an early supporter of American independence. Robert Bolton wrote in History of Westchester County that Thomas was "a warm Whig" who gave the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in New York at the White Plains courthouse on July 11, 1776.[12] On March 22, 1777, Thomas was imprisoned by the British and died on May 2, 1777.[12]

John Thomas' sons, John Thomas, Jr. and Thomas Thomas, also fought for American independence.[12] Thomas Thomas was later appointed a General. He is buried at the Thomas family graveyard, which is located behind the Neuberger Museum of Art on the campus of Purchase College.[12] A tall, white stone obelisk commemorates General Thomas and his family.[12]

Academic profile[edit]

Summer orientation 2013

As of 2014, Purchase College had 4,155 undergraduate students with freshman enrollment of 694.[1][13] 56% of Purchase's student body is female. 17% of the college's students come from outside of New York state and 2.5% of its students are international.[13] Purchase has an acceptance rate of 33% and a student-teacher ratio of 16:1.[14] 66% of Purchase students receive need-based financial aid and the college has an endowment of $47.1 million.[1]

University rankings
ARWU[15] N/A
Forbes[16] N/A
ARWU[17] N/A
QS[18] N/A
Times[19] N/A
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[20] 9
Washington Monthly[21] 240

Purchase College was ranked the ninth-best public liberal-arts college (156 overall) in US News and World Report's 2014 college rankings.[8] Kiplinger ranked the school as the 89th Best Value in Public Colleges in 2014.[14] It was also listed as one of the 100 Best Value Public Colleges for the years 2013 and 2014 by the Princeton Review.[13] The Princeton Review rated the school's theatre as the tenth best and the student body as the twelfth most liberal.[13] Purchase was also listed as one of the Princeton Review's top 376 colleges for 2014.[10] Newsweek ranked the school's student body as the thirteenth most liberal in 2012.[22]

Purchase College offers majors from three schools: the School for Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of the Arts, and the School of Liberal Studies & Continuing Education.[23] According to US News and World Report, the five most popular majors for 2012 graduates at Purchase College were Visual and Performing Arts (40%); General Studies and Humanities (20%); Social Sciences (10%); Communication, Journalism and related programs (7%); and Psychology (6%).[24]


School of the Arts[edit]

"The School of the Arts provides the highest level of professional training to developing visual and performing artists and arts managers. Students are prepared for careers in their fields and are inspired to be engaged and innovative contributors to society. Prestigious faculties in the Conservatories of Dance, Music, and Theatre Arts, and the School of Art+Design cultivate, nurture, and prepare students through rigorous and comprehensive studio practice informed by theoretical, conceptual, and historical study. The thriving intellectual culture in the School of the Arts is enhanced by its unique and synergistic relationship with the broader College community. These vibrant performance and studio-based degree programs challenge students to be reflective and articulate, productive and entrepreneurial, and creative and innovative practitioners of their respective art forms."[25]

School of Liberal Arts and Sciences[edit]

"The School of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers a rich, disciplinary, and interdisciplinary curriculum – with extraordinary opportunities for undergraduate research, study abroad, and preprofessional preparation.Schools of ThoughtCourses are offered in film and media studies, the humanities, and the natural and social sciences. Students can choose from 23 academic majors or design an interdisciplinary major in the liberal arts that touches on several areas of study. Either way, you’ll benefit from: close, personal interaction with faculty mentors; small class settings that challenge and inspire; an atmosphere fueled by critical thinking, originality, and creativity. Typically, students spend their first years exploring and discovering a wide variety of subjects, and much of their senior year designing, researching, creating, and producing a major work – whether it’s a full-length film, an original scientific investigation, or a research paper. The senior project is an impressive achievement that often becomes the springboard for your future career."[26]


Purchase Student Government Association[edit]

The Purchase Student Government Association, commonly referred to as the PSGA, is a nonprofit corporation responsible for managing the money collected from Purchase College students' Mandatory Student Activity Fee. The PSGA functions within a tripartite structure made up of the representative student government, an independent fiscal agent and the campus president[27] The PSGA itself has three branches: The Executive Branch, The Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch — which are further divided into six key organs: The Executive Board, the Senate, the Judicial Board, the Council of Clubs & Organizations, the Student Activities Board, and Services Board.

The PSGA is funded through the Mandatory Student Activity Fee (MSAF), which all full-time matriculated students pay. All students that have paid the Mandatory Student Activity Fee are deemed PSGA members, and share equal rights including: free attendance at PSGA events, voting in PSGA elections, running for office, attending PSGA club and committee meetings, and applying for jobs and internships that the PSGA offers. Voter turnout is moderate; about 900 of 4,200 eligible students participated in the Spring 2013 General Election.

The PSGA Executive Board handles the hiring and firing of PSGA staff, and consists of a President, Chair of the Senate, Coordinator of Finance, Coordinator of Council of Clubs, Organizations & Services, Student Activities Coordinator, and Coordinator of Public Affairs. Since 2009, the Student Activities Board, which the Student Activities Coordinator chairs, has facilitated the PSGA's recreational programming.

The PSGA Senate provides checks and balances for the Executive Board, having the ability to remove any Executive from office who does not meet constitutional requirements. The Senate also has final approval of all budget decisions. The Senate also has oversight of a pooled Senator Initiative Fund, to fund projects of benefit to the student body — such as new kitchenware for a community kitchen, and an annual Lazer Tag night. The Senate's composition is at least one Senator from each residential area, including Commuters, and for the School of the Arts and the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The current Senator to Student ratio is 1:420. All Senate business is conducted in accordance with Robert's Rules of Order.

The PSGA President nominates, and the PSGA Senate approves, one Chief Justice, three justices, and two reserve justices, to serve on the PSGA Judicial Board. All justices serve two year terms. The Judicial Board convenes only when there is an internal dispute, which has been referred to the Senate, including impeachment, election irregularities, and policy discrepancies.

In addition to advocating on the student body's behalf, the PSGA runs the college's Student Center, most non-academic activities on campus, including the annual Culture Shock festival, numerous student-run services, and all clubs and organizations.[28] Students are additionally represented on the Purchase College Senate, the all-campus governance body, by three voting members: the PSGA's President, and two PSGA selected students to represent both the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of the Arts.[29]

Services and organizations[edit]

Purchase College, with its proximity to New York City and the variety of arts programs offered to its students, is home to many clubs, organizations, and services. The PSGA funds clubs, organizations, and services, which are groups where students with similar interests gather for weekly or biweekly meetings for discussions. They are also responsible for dozens of parties, lectures, screenings, and shows in which the entire community is invited to participate. Clubs and organizations send representatives monthly to a Council of Clubs and Organizations (CoCOs), chaired by the Coordinator of Clubs, Organizations, and Services (CoCOaS). The distinction between a club and an organization is that the latter has a historical presence on campus, and typically has access to greater funding. Current clubs and organizations on campus include:

  • Anime Club – A club established to provide insight and appreciation for Japanese animation and culture. Discussions centered around what ways anime illustrates Japanese attitudes toward social and political issues. Hosts weekly anime screenings.
  • Anthropology Club – This club exposes students to theoretical and practical perspectives that guide the study of anthropology, and examine its relevance to culture. Frequently hosts speakers and send members on conference trips.
  • Critique Club - Critique Club is open to all students interested in the study or practice of art and offers free figure drawing sessions.
  • CANDIES - CANDIES is an organization created to provide parties hosted in on-campus venues. CANDIES also co-hosts many cross-cultural events with other clubs.
  • Cheese Club – A group that meets weekly to enjoy the many flavors of cheese.
  • Gamers United – A venue wherein the large college gaming community can meet to discuss and play their favorite games, and enjoy the best possible gaming experience. Includes console, role-playing, board, and more.
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Union (LGBTQU) – An organization that provides support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and queer students as well as spreads knowledge of LGBTQ issues to the campus community. LGBTQU is Purchase College's oldest and largest student organization, is noted for running many popular events on campus (Such as Fall Ball, the college's annual drag ball competition to be reigning Queen and King for the following academic year) and holding informative discussions each week.
  • Hillel – Chapter of the nationwide organization to build relations among students on-campus and raise awareness about Jewish culture and customs.
  • Latinos Unidos – Strives to advocate awareness of Latino issues on campus as well as in our own communities and around the world.
  • Organization of African People In the Americas (OAPIA) – This organization aims to create a fun-filled environment balanced by deep, philosophical discussions on issues pertinent to bettering the lives of African Americans and improving conditional standards of the communities from which we come and live.
  • Students of Caribbean Ancestry (SOCA) – Students of Caribbean Ancestry (SOCA) is a club with the intention of raising awareness about Caribbean culture.

Other entities which are the benefactors of PSGA funds include:

  • The Student Center, referred to commonly among students as "The Stood" /std/, is a student recreational facility opened in 2003 by student Ben Offer-Arie, as part of his Anthropology senior project, in conjunction with then-President and Founder of The Purchase Independent, Glen Parker. A major renovation to the building's exterior in 2007 solidified the school's devotion to the Student Center. Prior to 2003, the facility was originally known as the Butler Building. Since its opening as the Student Center, the facility has featured free-use billiard and ping pong tables, a videogame arcade, air hockey, foosball, board games, two concert venues — the Student Center Mainstage, and Whitson's Memorial Greeting Hall, which was created by Jonathan Schulman — and a film screening area, The Cinema. The Student Center also has free-wifi, a student art gallery, the Art Co-op, a student bike shop, a silkscreen print shop, and the college's Food Co-Op.
  • PTV, is the college's own television station which is cablecast on channel 69 on campus. The station is entirely funded and run by students. In addition to the TV station, the school also has a student-run radio station, WPSR, which is simulcast on the internet.
  • Purchase Late Night, a student-run television show featured on the Late Night Network, started in 2010 by Mike Cronin. It ran four years and became the largest show in campus history.
  • The Submission, a student-run interdisciplinary journal of creativity, started in 2005 by Katie Reilly, Salina Sanchez, Steve Sajdak, and Miguel Jimenez.
  • The Alternative Clinic is a student run women's health clinic providing a confidential safe space for female bodied patients as well as dental dams, condoms, lube and educational materials for all students. The Alternative Clinic hosts its event "Women Out Loud" once a semester featuring music, poetry, food, and sex toy raffles. The Alternative Clinic was founded in 1978 as a student's senior project and is the longest running service on campus.
  • WPSR, the college's radio station.
  • The Co-op, a student-run space for lounging and programming that serves a selection vegan foods and fair-trade coffees and teas.[30]
  • Mount Olympus, a student-run silkscreen printshop located in The Stood. Mount Olympus allows students outside of the Visual Arts conservatory to learn printmaking processes and produce their own posters, t-shirts, and other printed materials.


The PSGA indirectly funds campus intramurals by way of a grant to the Athletic Department. Current intramural sports funded in part by the PSGA include:

  • Classical Fencing - Purchase has one of the few classical fencing clubs in the US. Classical fencing is the final development of European swordsmanship, which came into its full form during the last half of the 19th century. Training in this art is geared to learning and practicing techniques as a martial art. In the club students can learn French & Italian foil, French & Italian épée, Northern & Southern Italian dueling sabre, French smallsword, Italian & Spanish rapier, longsword and the German dusack among other styles.
  • Nerf Club - Founded in late Fall of 2010, the Nerf Club is a relatively young club located in the Humanities Building. Originally organized as a small group of friends with toy guns in the residential basement tunnels, the club rapidly expanded - first in the Spring of 2011 as a sub-sect of the Role Playing Gamers Association and most recently as an independent intramural sports and recreational club in the Fall of 2011.
  • Ultimate Frisbee - Purchase's Ultimate Frisbee team, the Sub-Atomic Puppies, plays through the year in both Fall and Spring seasons, competing in tournaments in various states every few weekends, competing against such schools/teams as Marist, Rider, SUNY New Paltz, Vassar, and Bard.
  • Men's Lacrosse - The Purchase College Men's Lacrosse Team is competing as a non-member program for the 2011-2012 season with a plan to bring the program varsity in the near future. The student members will be competing this spring in the inaugural season against various MCLA, PCLL and NCAA members throughout the tri-state area. The club practices and competes on the Purchase College Turf Field on campus.
  • Taekwondo Chung Do Kwan Club - Established in September 2005, the Purchase College Taekwondo Chung Do Kwan Club offers members the opportunity to participate in two Asian martial arts Taekwondo and Hapkido. Additionally, in September 2012 an Iaido study group will be formed. The club is affiliated with Taekwondo Chung Do Kwan (Korea), the USA Taekwondo Association, and Tactical Hapkido Alliance; therefore, club members can earn and receive rank from those organizations. Members may also compete in the Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference.[31]


The College holds several key events:

  • The Culture Shock festival, a two-day music festival sponsored by the Purchase Student Government Association (PSGA) is a popular annual event. The weekend festival, typically held in April, showcases the talents of musical acts and performance artists. Some notable performers include: Ween, Dan Deacon, Regina Spektor, Deerhoof, Pissed Jeans, Animal Collective, GZA, Cat Power, Blonde Redhead, Bouncing Souls, Ghostface Killah, Ted Leo, Biz Markie, Kool Keith, Slick Rick, Destiny's Child, Drake (entertainer), Tycho (musician), Beach Fossils, Dead Prez, and Big Freedia. Culture Shock is funded by the student body's mandatory activity fee and is organized by the Purchase Student Government Association.
  • Zombie Prom, A Prom type event held in the student center where students dress up as Zombies.
  • Fall Fest, a musical event held every fall in the college's student center.
  • Fall Ball, an event that celebrates Purchase College's strong LGBT culture, where drag queens and drag kings compete on stage for the year's crown.
  • Purchase Wide Open, usually occurring in April is a combination of Alumni Homecoming and Family Day. A series of Visual and Performing Arts, Sciences and Humanities events that enables both the on and off campus community to share in what Purchase College has to offer. Most events are free; shows held at the Performing Arts Center (PAC) usually require advance ticket purchase.
  • Women Out Loud, A body and sex positive event held every semester by the Alternative Clinic. This event celebrates the Clinic's patients and the women on campus, encouraging them to be "women out loud". This event is the largest, free, sex toy raffle on campus.


The Performing Arts Center as viewed from the campus plaza, prior to renovation.

The site chosen for the campus was a 500 acre (2 km²) estate, Strathglass Farm, in the middle of Westchester County, 40 minutes from Manhattan by car, about 30-40 minutes by Metro-North, and an Hour on the Westchester County Beeline Bus. It was originally the property of Thomas Thomas, an American Revolutionary war soldier,[32] whose family and servant cemetery remains on the campus between the south ends of the Humanities and Visual Arts buildings. To transform the former farm into a college for thousands of students, SUNY engaged some of the most prominent American architects to design the campus (Paul Rudolph, Charles Gwathmey, Phillip Johnson, John Burgee, and Robert Venturi). Edward Larrabee Barnes created the master plan, and nine distinguished architectural firms designed specific buildings. Buildings on the campus are located in the center of the property, and are isolated from the surrounding community by wooded areas around the perimeter of the property. The college is adjacent to the Westchester County Airport, and is across the street from PepsiCo's world headquarters. The campus is not within walking distance to any commercial area, but maintains an hourly shuttle bus system to and from White Plains, New York.

The buildings and open spaces of the campus are visually distinctive models of late modernist architecture. The Visual Arts Building has 160,000 square feet (15,000 m2) of studios, exhibition spaces, workshops and labs. The Dance Building was the first in America created specifically for the training of dancers.[33] The Music Building has two recital halls, 75 practice rooms, 80 Steinway & Sons pianos, and professional recording studios. The Studio Composition program was one of the first in the country, and the faculty and student showcase Purchase Records has earned three Grammy nominations for its five releases. The Film Conservatory is housed within the lower level of the Music Building.

Various parts of the Campus are currently undergoing renovation. The new Student Services building opened in 2006, providing one-stop-shopping for most administrative services. The "mall," or main campus plaza, is currently undergoing renovations to improve its aesthetics, create communal spaces, and to reduce flooding when it rains.

Travel and Leisure's October 2013 issue named the college as one of ugliest campuses in the US, noting that it was constructed at the height of Modernism in 1967 when the vast expanses of dark brick was "a sight to behold", but decrying the lack of windows as creating "an ominous vibe more appropriate for New York's Sing Sing Prison".[34]


Purchase Panthers Men's Basketball Team — Skyline conference champs 2014

SUNY Purchase teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Panthers are a member of the Skyline Conference. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis and wrestling. Women's sports include basketball, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis and volleyball.

The Purchase College Athletic Department also houses non-varsity and intramural teams and clubs. Intramural teams include basketball, flag football, floor hockey, indoor soccer, racquet sports, co-ed softball, Water Polo, Quidditch and volleyball.[35] Intramural clubs include Men's Lacrosse fencing club, stage combat, Tae Kwan Do, Ultimate Frisbee club, Nerf club, Outdoors Adventure, field hockey, Chung Do Kwan, equestrian, Zumba and PiYo.[36]

Performing Arts Center[edit]

Purchase Opera at the Performing Arts Center

Situated on the campus is the college's Performing Arts Center. It is a four-theatre complex that is the largest performing arts center in the SUNY system.[37] The center's performance spaces include the 1400-seat, three-tiered Concert Hall with hydraulic lifts for orchestra; the 600-seat Recital Hall with rear-screen projection bay; the 700-seat PepsiCo Theatre designed by Ming Cho Lee; and the Repertory Theatre, a "black box" with flexible stage and seating configurations.[38] Each theatre is specifically designed for the presentation of a different type of performance and many types of events.

The Performing Arts Center presents a broad range of performances – offering music, dance, theatre, comedy, and cinema to audiences from Westchester and the surrounding communities. The Center features world-class orchestras and leading contemporary artists emerging artists. As the major regional presenter of dance, programs have included appearances of many important traditional, contemporary, and folkloric companies. The Center has been the scene of performances by artists such as Lang Lang, Patti LuPone, Pilobolus, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance, Elvis Costello, Mark Morris Dance Group, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and comedian George Carlin. The Performing Arts center is also home to Conservatory of Theatre Arts' Purchase Repertory Theatre. The Center’s ongoing initiatives include artist partnerships, residency activities, and commissions.

Neuberger Museum of Art[edit]

The college also houses the Neuberger Museum of Art, which is among the ten largest museums in New York and the eighth-largest university museum in the nation.[39] The museum opened in 1972.[40] It holds a permanent collection of more than 7,000 works of art[41] and features a full schedule of exhibitions, lectures, films, and multimedia events. The museum presents more than a dozen exhibitions each year in addition to ongoing exhibitions from its permanent collections. The Neuberger Museum of Art has works from 20th-century masters, midcareer and emerging artists, and the is well-known for its permanent exhibition of African art.[42]

Notable faculty and alumni[edit]

Notable Purchase College faculty members include Bradley Brookshire, a harpsichordist and Grammy nominee; Todd Coolman, a jazz bassist and a two-time time Grammy winner; composer Laura Kaminsky; pianist Steven Lubin; bassist Tim Cobb; and David Grill, a lighting designer who won Emmys for his work on the Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show and 2002 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony. Other faculty members include Iris Cahn, a film editor and Emmy nominee; dance choreographer Rosalind Newman; Liz Phillips, an artist and Guggenheim Fellow; Andrew Bernstein, a philosopher and prominent Objectivist; writer Melissa Febos; and artist Steve Lambert.

Purchase College alumni are well represented throughout the arts. Actors and actresses who attended the college include Rochelle Aytes, Susie Essman, Edie Falco, Zoë Kravitz, Melissa Leo, James McDaniel, Janel Moloney, Parker Posey, Ving Rhames, Jay O. Sanders, Wesley Snipes, Sherry Stringfield, Stanley Tucci, and Shea Whigham. Other film professionals who attended Purchase College include directors Ilya Chaiken, Abel Ferrara, Hal Hartley, Bob Gosse Michael Spiller, James Spione, and Chris Wedge. Theatrical designers David Gallo, Brian MacDevitt, Kenneth Posner and Tony award-winning lighting designer Jeff Crioter also attended the school. Playwright Donald Margulies and dancers Kyle Abraham and Doug Varone are Purchase College alumni. Dancers Kyle Abraham, Terese Capucilli, and Doug Varone attended Purchase.

Artists who attended Purchase include Katherine Bradford, Gregory Crewdson, Luis Croquer, Thomas E. Franklin, Jimmy Joe Roche, Jon Kessler, Ron Rocco and Fred Wilson. Emmy award-winning art director Fabrice Kenwood attended the school. Purchase counts among its alumni musicians such as Quentin Angus, Chris Ballew, Bill Charlap, Imani Coppola, Dan Deacon, Jack Dishel, Dan Romer, record producer Elite, the band Kiss Kiss, Jeffrey Lewis, Mase, Moby, the band O'Death, Daryl Palumbo, Bess Rogers, Joel Rubin, Langhorne Slim, Regina Spektor, Stephanie Winters and Jenny Owen Youngs.

Alumi from the liberal arts and sciences include authors Nora Raleigh Baskin, David Graeber, and Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Scientists Jill Bargonetti, Jeanne Darst, and Carl Safina attended the college along with journalists Manohla Dargis and Adam Nagourney.


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  26. ^ Purchase College - Academic Programs - LAS
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  28. ^ "Purchase Student Government Association". Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  29. ^ "Faculty Handbook". Purchase College. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  30. ^ PSGA Clubs & Descriptions. PSGA. 2008. Archived from the original on March 17, 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2008. 
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  33. ^ "From College to the World, by Way of Dance". The New York Times. April 13, 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2008. 
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  42. ^ Felicia R. Lee (April 25, 2012). "Neuberger Museum Gets a New Director". The New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°02′50″N 73°42′08″W / 41.047285°N 73.702126°W / 41.047285; -73.702126