Courtney Schaefer (College ‘11)
We recently talked with Courtney Schaefer (College ‘11), one of the newest and youngest members of the UVA Arts Council, about why she joined, how she plans to use her participation to give back to UVA Arts, and why it important for other young alums to do the same! Courtney, a double major in Art History and French with a minor in Leadership, is now working as Assistant Director, Affiliate Programs at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).
What made you decide to give back to UVA by joining the Arts Council?
I wanted to make a meaningful contribution not just to UVA, but specially to the arts at UVA. Having been fortunate enough to stay well connected since graduation through my local alumni club, this was a conscious decision to support what I cared about the most; the arts. Additionally, over the years and mostly through our New York Club, I had come to know several alums working in the field and/or passionate about the arts, some of which were Arts Council members. When Gretchen Tibbits, Arts Council Chair, - someone who I consider a mentor - and I discussed my possible involvement, she was immediately encouraging. I then thought we needed to get some younger alums on the Council, and subsequently encouraged Reece Mealy and Elise Herget to consider joining.
Can you talk about ways that you experienced the arts while at UVA and how that impacted your time here?
My involvement with the Art History Department was immediate. Still to this day I can remember sitting in Professor Larry Goedde's 9:30am Tuesday/Thursday Dutch Art of the Golden Age. I felt like I had been transported to the galleries of The Met; it was that vivid. My involvement with Arts Administration and the larger UVA/Charlottesville arts community, however, didn't unravel until 3rd Year when I enrolled in the student docent program through The Fralin and subsequently found myself in the office of Professor George Sampson, who besides being a wonderful teacher, is the best "connector" of students and alums. Ultimately, I knew from very early on that I wanted to incorporate the arts in the rest of my life, be that personal and/or professional. I've been lucky enough to have found a career to follow that pursuit.
Was there a particular class you took or a performance you saw that stands out?
I honestly wish I could go back and take every single class. And I wish I had become involved with The Fralin sooner. But, if I had to pick, I'd say it was my first class, Dutch Art with Professor Goedde. It was my second formal exposure to Art History (having taken AP in high school), and it made me think I wanted to study Rembrandt and Velazquez for the rest of my undergraduate time.
What kind of a role do you hope to play in being a part of the Arts Council?
Again, I hope to make a meaningful contribution in best supporting UVA, its incredible professors and programs, and the students and alums at large. Making a financial gift each year carries with it commitment and responsibility. I hope to travel to Charlottesville and attend at least one of the two annual meetings each year. There is no replacement for being there in person. Additionally, I hope to meet new people, make connections, and bridge the gap between students soon-to-graduate and young alums.
Why do you think it is important for younger alums to be represented in the Arts Council and what do you think you and your fellow younger members can bring to the group?
I believe diversity (not just in age) adds greater value by contributing new and different opinions. Having worked with young alums (i.e. my peers) professionally, I know our generation wants to be involved. We don't just want to write a check; we have energy, contacts, and ideas, and we want to be active participants. For us young alums on the Council, I feel we have a lot to offer in terms of our relatively recent experience as students on grounds, what we are seeing in the work force post-graduation, and creative strategies when it comes to marketing, social media, and event production. The sky is the limit!