July 17, 2006
Ph.D., St. John’s University Dean of the School of Education,
was honored last Friday by the Usdan Center for Creative and
Performing Arts with a building dedication to celebrate his 36 year
commitment to the organization. The Jerrold Ross Discovery Center,
a modern open-air structure built by architects from the Atkin,
Olshin, Lawson-Bell (AOL-B) is set in a dramatic woodland location
on the Usdan campus located in Huntington, N.Y.
The Jerrold Ross Discovery Center (the only one of its kind in a
cultural arts center) will cater to Usdan’s youngest students ages
6-8 providing ample space for summer programming. These children
will enjoy two new teaching studios, a pyramidal roof with large
skylights that introduce light into a center atrium and four
surrounding studios that will be dedicated solely for beginning tap
dance, percussion and jazz ensemble programs.
“I couldn’t be honored more,” Dr. Ross said in his remarks
during the dedication on July 14. “This building is a celebration
of the story of Usdan in helping children to spend a summer in the
arts while finding themselves for a lifetime. It also represents
new content, new scope and new possibilities for students
experiencing the arts for the first time.”
John Usdan, President of the Usdan Center Board of Trustees
lauded Dr. Ross for his many years of service to his family’s
organization and likened him to a father figure for to the
youngsters who have come and gone through the program.
“Usdan’s children are Jerry’s children,” Usdan said to close the
dedication. “We thank you Jerry for adopting our kids. This
building is dedicated to you and will always be a remembrance of
your dedication to learning, discovery and excellence.”
A special musical tribute was given to Dr. Ross by the Usdan
Center Discovery Choir (made up of children who will benefit from
the multi-purpose structure) to the delight of the more than 100
friends, supporters, St. John’s co-workers and well wishers who
were in attendance.
“We were happy to sing for him (Dr. Ross),” said seven year old
India Baker, one of the Usdan camp children. “I really like the
building because it’s big and a lot of people can visit.”
Six year old Adam Wolf, another Usdan camper liked the space
because “it has two art rooms that I can use.”
The dedication was filled with remarks and presentations from a
host of friends and colleagues. The ceremony welcome was given by
Dale Lewis, Executive Director of the Usdan Center. Lewis was
followed by Jane Lawson-Bell, representing Atkin Olshin,
Lawson-Bell Architects, Dr. Geraldine Chapey, Board of Regents of
the University of the State of New York and Clara Sugar, New York
State School Music Association. Chapey is the former St. John’s
University Dean of the School of Education.
Dr. Ross has a long history in the arts dating back to his days
at New York University where he served as Director of the National
Arts Education Research Center from 1987-1995. He also holds a
Ph.D. in Music Education at NYU and has served as President of the
New York College of Music, as well as the Director of the renowned
Town Hall in New York City.
The Jerrold Ross Discovery Center was a project that took two
years in all from start to completion. Several donors aided in the
process to make the dream a reality and Dr. Ross thanked each and
every one who contributed to the cause.
Building dedications are normally reserved for those who have
passed on and Dr. Ross joked he had begun writing his obituary for
the New York Times as he listened to the guest speakers.
“I think I’ll wait until I’m 100,” he said laughing. “The
realization (that his name would forever be cast on the building)
really hit me when I saw the sign as I arrived. It’s so new that I
don’t think it’s sunk in yet.”
Queens Courier for more coverage on Dr. Jerrold Ross (Born
Teacher: He chose to lead the educators, 8/3/06).