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Emeritus professor donates $1 million to School of Fine Arts (Released: 1/31/00)

by Sherry Fisher, Office of University Communications

STORRS, Conn. -- A retired professor of dramatic arts has donated $1 million to the University of Connecticut's School of Fine Arts.

Nafe Katter, an emeritus professor of dramatic arts who lives in MANCHESTER, is giving the gift for the construction of a new thrust stage in the School of Fine Arts. A thrust stage is a three-sided stage that extends into the audience and provides for closer audience-actor contact. This will complement the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theatre, the proscenium-style venue where the dramatic arts department presents its main-stage productions.

"Nafe Katter will influence generations of UConn students not only through his remarkable career at UConn, but by his example of unstinting generosity," says UConn President Philip E. Austin.

Gary M. English, interim dean of the School of Fine Arts, says, "Nafe has been a role model and mentor to our students, not only as a gifted faculty member, but as an acclaimed working professional artist across Connecticut. His generous gift represents yet another way in which Nafe will inspire a future generation of artists. How extraordinary that, after 40 years of devoted service to this department as an esteemed member of the faculty, Nafe should now assume another 'role' -- that of an angel," English says.

Robert Wildman, managing director of The Connecticut Repertory Theatre, the professional performance arm of the dramatic arts department, says the new performance space will give a boost to the program.

"The creation of the new thrust stage will enable our students to experience a different kind of performance space -- one that is widely found in regional theaters across the country," Wildman says. "This promotes their versatility as emerging theater artists, a cause to which Nafe has been devoted for many years."

Born in Saginaw, Mich., Katter received his bachelor's degree, master's degree, and doctoral degree from the University of Michigan. He came to UConn in 1957 and retired in 1997. While at the University, he directed 100 productions, including Shakespeare and musicals. He is a founder and actor at the Stratford (Conn.) Festival Theatre, and has acted in Theatreworks and the Hartford Stage, where he continues to enjoy an active career.