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Ellis Finger, retiring director of the Williams Center for the Arts, was recognized at Lafayette’s annual pre-Commencement reception, dinner, and awards ceremony. Read his citation below.

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When you arrived here in 1973 to teach in the foreign languages department, little did you know that you would spend most of your Lafayette career in a building that did not exist yet and in a position you had never envisioned adding to your CV. A decade later, your natural gifts as an advocate for the arts, combined with the useful experience in fund-raising and friend-raising you gained during your two-and-a-half years in the College’s development office, made you the ideal choice to become the founding director of the Williams Center for the Arts.

The dazzling inaugural concert by the Guarneri String Quartet and an equally superb residency the following week by members of the Royal Shakespeare Company announced your ambitions for the center. Season after season you have engaged world-class and world-ranging musicians, dancers, actors, and performance artists. Your dedication and discernment have been equally evident in the artistic collaborations and residencies, community outreach programs, and funding partnerships you have fostered here in the Lehigh Valley and well beyond.

In 2002 your innovative leadership earned you Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ William Dawson Award for sustained achievement in program design, audience building, and community involvement. Lafayette has also recognized the skill with which you shaped the cultural program, as your selection to receive both the Cyrus S. Fleck, Jr. ’52 Administrator of the Year Award and the Gary A. Evans ’57 Administrative Prize attests. At heart, however, you have remained a teacher, always approaching your responsibilities with the consummate educator’s commitment to excite, challenge, enrich, and inspire.

Bravo, Maestro! Bravo! Yours has been a career performed con brio. Although you will no longer have a center-stage role in directing the cultural program, we trust you will return to the center often. We especially look forward to welcoming you and Phyllis back each year to enjoy the concert that will be performed in your honor.

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