MIT benefactor Vera List has been chosen by President Clinton to receive the prestigious 1996 National Medal of the Arts tomorrow (January 9) in Washington, DC.
Mrs. List is one of 12 winners of the award, announced last week by the National Endowment for the Arts, which annually honors individuals and organizations for their contributions to arts and culture. It will be presented by the President and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in a ceremony which Alan Brody, associate provost for the arts, will attend.
Mrs. List, who turned 89 on Monday, has contributed funding, artworks and visionary ideas to MIT and numerous other institutions. Through the Albert A. List Foundation, named for her late husband, she provided funding in 1985 to establish the List Visual Arts Center, and again in 1991 to establish the List Center's Endowment Fund. Her gifts to MIT totalling more than $3 million have also resulted in a Writing Prize and the List Foundation Fellowship in the Arts, which supports arts projects by students of color at MIT.
"Hers is the rarest form of philanthropy, that which calls little attention to itself while providing opportunities and experiences of real substance and lasting meaning for a large and diverse community," said President Charles M. Vest.
Many campus buildings contain evidence of Mrs. List's generosity, including the many dorm rooms with works she has contributed to the Student Loan Art Program.
Other 1996 awardees include Boston opera impresario Sarah Caldwell, playwright Edward Albee, actor/director Robert Redford, author/illustrator Maurice Sendak, composer Stephen Sondheim, band leader Lionel Hampton and the Boys Choir of Harlem.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 8, 1997.