About Gateway

Gateway was the community newsletter of Pratt Institute published monthly by the Office of Communications, in the Division of Institutional Advancement through spring 2014. For current Pratt-related news, visit the News page on Pratt’s website.




Click photo above for more scenes from ReIGNITE!

Almost 300 Pratt graduates attended the annual ReIGNITE! alumni celebration on the last weekend in September, traveling from as far away as Nevada and California to see how the campus has changed, hear updates on Pratt programs, and reminisce.

And reminisce they did, especially at the elegant luncheon held at the Caroline Ladd Pratt House in honor of alumni celebrating their 50th, 55th, and 60th reunions.

“I had a wonderful time at Pratt,” said trustee John Morning (B.F.A. Advertising Design ’55). “Pratt was a wonderful place to go to school. It launched me on a successful career in graphic design.”

“I chose Pratt by chance after the army,” said Norman Cicelsky (B. Arch. ’60). It was one of my biggest great decisions.” He added that he lives in a house that he designed and built.

Said Janet M. Anderson (B.F.A. Graphic Arts & Illustration ’60), who has had a 40-year career in book publishing: “I’ve always been grateful to Pratt for helping me in an area I love. Being here today is just another great experience.”

They also heard from Pratt President Thomas F. Schutte who talked about how much the school has grown since they were students, and said the alumni are partly to thank.

“Thanks to an unprecedented surge in enrollment, one of the largest incoming classes in the Institute’s history just came through our gates.  I am thrilled that so many students made Pratt their college of choice, which speaks to the exceptional quality and far-reaching impact of our academic programs.” He added, “While many factors contribute to Pratt’s stature in the art and design world, our reputation for excellence is based primarily on the success and achievements of our alumni. You have truly made Pratt what it is today.”

Dr. Schutte also talked about capital improvements and Pratt’s sustainability efforts, focusing on the soon-to-be-opened Myrtle Hall.

“Myrtle Hall will provide much-needed academic and administrative space—all in a beautiful ‘green’ building that will serve as a model for the community and other urban campuses,” he said.

The afternoon was warm and sunny, and many of the alumni took part in walking tours that offered a glimpse of the tremendous changes that have taken place both on campus and in the surrounding neighborhood.

Many alumni also chose to hear updates from the chairs and deans about programs.

At Pratt Studios, about 30 alumni heard from the new chair of the Industrial Design department, Steve Diskin, who said he plans to form a faculty task force to discuss further honing the school’s standards to fuel innovative ideas and maintain the already-high quality and integrity of the department.

Across DeKalb Avenue, about two-dozen alumni heard about the latest achievements of the School of Architecture. Dean Thomas Hanrahan said the school now offers nine degree programs, has about 900 students, and recently began offering a master of science in architecture. He numbered as recent successes a six-year re-accreditation for the master’s in architecture, and a five-year re-accreditation for the Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment.

In addition to receiving updates on the programs, alumni were also able to take part in lectures and debates about the latest issues in their fields.

Friday night at Pratt Manhattan, alumni, faculty, and students from the School of Library and Information Science (SILS) were treated to a lecture by Brooklyn Historical Society President Deborah Schwartz about the recent revival of the society. Her talk was part of the annual Nasser Sharify lecture, celebrating the SILS former dean.

Schwartz said when she took over as president of the Historical Society in 2006, the institution had been closed for five years and was buried in debt. Schwartz said her mission from the beginning was to find a way to make the society play a meaningful role in making history relevant to people’s lives.

“As preservers of Brooklyn history,” she said, “we had to look at all the ways that history intersects with arts, politics, community, the built environment… and our daily struggle for freedom and justice.”

On Saturday, the Fine Arts department held a debate, moderated by Chair Donna Moran (M.F.A. ’71), on whether M.F.A. students are helped or harmed by early entry into the commercial art world.

Joe Fyfe, visiting assistant professor, and Dominique Nahas, adjunct associate professor, in the Graduate Fine Arts department, agreed that emerging artists should not delay entering the marketplace.

The School of Liberal Arts and Sciences held a reading by three faculty members: May Joseph, professor of global studies in the Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies read from her forthcoming book Imagining New York City, a montage of socialism in millennial New York; Ellery Washington, visiting assistant professor of humanities and media studies, read from the book State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America, for which he was asked to write a chapter on his home state of New Mexico; and Thad Ziolkowski, professor of humanities and media studies and director of the writing program, read from the story “Arbor Consanguinitatis,” an autobiographical fragment that he wrote in reaction to the work of an artist friend.

Meantime, alumni—many of them designers—participated in a lively discussion about “crowdsourcing”—the practice of using social networking technology to call on a group to help you complete a task or answer a question—and its impact on the design field.

The discussion was led by Communications Design Chair Kathleen Creighton (Media Arts ’73) and Alexander Smith (B.F.A. Graphic Design ’97), a visiting instructor in the Undergraduate Communications Design department.

As the day wrapped up with a cocktail reception in the Juliana Curran Terian Design Center, many alumni said they were thrilled to have spent the afternoon at Pratt.

Lois Brown (B.F.A. Advertising Design ’55) said she lives on the West Coast and says this was her first time back since graduation: “I haven’t been back to Pratt in 55 years,” she said.  “The experience today was phenomenal. I had a wonderful time meeting with all the people who graduated from Pratt…and it was very exciting to see all the changes that have happened over the last 50 years.”

Alumnus Paul Morgan (B.F.A. Fashion Design ’90) says while he left Pratt more than two decades ago, he finds himself regularly thinking about the school.

“I have found that regardless of what it is I’ve done professionally, that I’ve been able to tap into the thinking, the training, the thought processes that I’ve developed because I was a student here.” 

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