Marie Sparks College of the Arts Scholarship Fund

$13,085 raised towards our $15,000 goal

Meet Alexis Cruz - Inaugural Recipient of the Marie Sparks College of the Arts Scholarship!

November 23, 2021

We are proud to introduce the first recipient of the Marie Sparks College of the Arts Scholarship! Here is a personal message from Alexis Cruz:

Dear Donors,

I am honored to be the inaugural recipient of the Marie Sparks College of the Arts Scholarship. This award has allowed me to continue my studies at the Department of Theatre and Dance. To all of you who contributed so generously, I would like to express my deep gratitude… Thank you so much!

Sincerely,

Alexis Cruz

Please click on the link below to view the dance piece Alexis performed at the Youth America Grand Prix international ballet competition in 2020. This piece, titled The Race, was choreographed by MSU Alum Andrea Kramer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5F9V9mbDV-o

A Personal Message from Marie!

November 10, 2021

Dear Friends,

Thank you so very much for your contributions to the Marie Sparks College of the Arts Scholarship.  

As we all know we are living in some especially trying times.  But, thanks to your generosity we were able to bring a little ray of light to a very deserving MSU student by awarding our first scholarship for the current academic year!  We will be sharing the news of our inaugural scholarship awardee very soon so stay tuned.

With your continued support we hope to help many students, for many years.
Sending you my deepest gratitude with best wishes for a happy holiday season...stay safe and be well.



The Last Decade-Plus! at MSU (2007-Present)

September 23, 2021

In Marie’s three plus decades here at MSU she has served under four presidents, two provosts and two deans!

Marie’s third decade at MSU brought many new challenges and achievements.  As she continued to grow in her role as Director of Administration for the College of the Arts, she also continued her love for higher education by pursuing graduate courses and completing the Management Development Program of the Graduate School of Education at the Harvard Institutes of Higher Education, in 2009.

Marie remained involved with the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, presenting at conferences throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. Her interest in aligning the arts with health and wellness manifested into a 10-year relationship with The Autism Center at UMDNJ and Atlantic Health Systems, developing and offering arts and health programming serving health professionals, students, and NJ communities. These relationships also resulted in the formation of the Alliance for Arts and Health NJ and the creation of graduate degree courses in Arts & Health at MSU. 

In the coming years, many changes would happen for the College of the Arts.  We welcomed a new Dean, Daniel Gurskis, and also moved from Life Hall to a newly renovated Morehead Hall Dean’s Suite. Dean Gurskis came with new initiatives, and true to Marie's passion for community engagement she worked closely with Dean Gurskis to launch the MSU Film Institute that included a summer filmmaking residential exchange with the prestigious Shanghai Theatre Academy that would run each summer from 2014 – 2019. Another alliance that occurred involved a residency and relationship with the Ghetto Film School, bringing high school students from New York City, and Los Angeles to experience college life on our campus, while honing their filmmaking skills.

In 2014, the College of the Arts assumed leadership of the ReelAbilities New Jersey Film Festival, made possible by a generous grant from the Kessler Foundation.  Marie was instrumental in expanding the festival beyond MSU to include arts partners and programming from across the State.  The film festival has continued each year, and is currently in its 6th year (and virtual during the pandemic). Highlights include a NJ Audience Award from the Montclair Film Festival for a touching film covering the story of a family struck by the opioid epidemic, as told by a 7 year-old family member. 

In 2018, Marie took on another project near and dear to her heart – the struggles of Puerto Rico after the ravage of Hurricane Maria. Thanks to her organization and funding, the Office of Education and Community Outreach was able to send a group of students, faculty and staff to the island to report on the recovery initiatives. The culminating video project gained praise, including a College TV Emmy Award, as well as the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award, among other notable prizes.

Marie continued to direct, oversee, and/or participate in many initiatives of the Office of Education and Outreach during her last decade with MSU, including programs in health humanities, disabilities and the arts, human trafficking, and equity and diversity. 

All the while Marie also continued to provide administrative, managerial, strategic and most of all mentorship to many, in her role at the Dean’s Office. 

Stay tuned for a personal message from Marie, and the announcement of the inaugural recipient of the Marie Sparks College of the Arts Scholarship!

The Second Decade at MSU (1996-2006)

January 31, 2020

In Marie’s three plus decades here at MSU she has served under four presidents, two provosts and two deans!

 

Marie settled into her “second decade” at MSU armed with a new academic degree*, a new husband (Al Antomattei), a new baby (Albert P. Antomattei, a Junior at Columbia), and with continued enthusiasm and drive. In 1997, she was recruited by Dr. Geoffrey W. Newman, Dean of the then School of the Arts to serve as Director of Education for TheatreFest, the professional summer-stock theatre-in-residence at MSU.  In her new role, her efforts included championing a strong commitment to arts advocacy, arts education, and community engagement.  She was responsible for advancing an arts education agenda for the program, and the School, that included engagement with K-12 school districts, as well as community-based arts organizations.

 

Marie also spent these years serving on many MSU committees and boards, including the President’s Commission on Affirmative Action, the Latino(a) Caucus Executive Board and the MSU Alumni Association Board.  Outside of MSU, in the community, Marie served on the Steering Committee for the Creative Aging Network of the Montclair Arts Council, as the liaison for the School of the Arts to the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership, and also served as a member of the Montclair School District Arts Advisory Board. Thus, Marie continued her commitment to extending access to the arts to the K-12 community, most notably to the Paterson, Passaic, East Orange and Irvington Public School Districts, and working closely with schools such as Build Academy in Paterson, led by Gladys Melendez ’95 another MSU alum!

 

By 2006, Marie had now transitioned to serve as the founding Director of the Office of Education and Community Outreach of the newly named College of the Arts.

 

* Here’s an interesting anecdote:  Marie and her daughters, Michelle (Arroyo) Mitchell and Maria C. Arroyo reached a significant milestone in their academic pursuits--literally all at the same time! In 1994, they all celebrated a graduation: Marie from MSU, Michelle from University of the Arts, and Maria from Montclair High School.  

 

Stay tuned for more details of Marie’s “Three Decades at Montclair State!”

 

Thanks again to all who have contributed in both honoring Marie and helping deserving students reach their potential. The more we raise, the more students we can assist.  Please help us spread the word by sharing this with others in the current, and past MSU community, as well as with anyone who has an appreciation for education and the arts.

 

The First Decade at MSU (1985-1995)

January 09, 2020

In Marie’s three plus decades here at MSU she has served under four presidents, two provosts and two deans!

 

Marie Sparks started her career at Montclair State College in May 1985.  She was hired as a secretarial assistant to Dr. Rosemarie McCauley, Chairperson in the Department of Business Education and Office Systems Administration (BEOSA). The department was housed in the School of Business under the leadership of Dean Suresh Desai. The president of MSC at that time was Dr. Donald E. Walters.

 

Soon after, in January of 1986, Marie became a student at Montclair State, majoring in Speech and Theater with a concentration in Dance, and a minor in Health Studies.  And so, we see how Marie’s love of the arts, and interest in how the arts and health could intersect, began to influence her career.

 

By 1989 Marie was working in the division of Academic Affairs as a Program Assistant to Dr. Mildred García in the Office of the Vice President, Academic Affairs, under Dr. Richard Lynde. (Please see photo of Marie with Dr. García.) At that time, Marie began working with Mary Colon ’96 ’04, who was the student assistant in Academic Affairs. Mary is currently the Director of Academic Personnel and Technology Services, Academic Affairs. As Marie was mentored by Dr. Garcia, Mary was mentored by Marie!

 

From the beginning, Marie was influenced and mentored by so many, including administrators, colleagues, and faculty like Lori Katterhenry, Linda Roberts, and Ruth Clark to name a few.

 

Stay tuned for more details of Marie’s “Three Decades at Montclair State!”

 

Thanks again to all who have contributed in both honoring Marie and helping deserving students reach their potential. We hope to reach our $10,000 goal by January 31, 2020.   The more we raise, the more students we can assist.  Please help us spread the word by sharing this with others in the current, and past MSU community, as well as to anyone who has an appreciation for education and the arts.

Marie Sparks College of the Arts Scholarship

December 10, 2019

Many thanks to all of you who have given so generously! In doing so, you are both honoring Marie and helping deserving students reach their potential.  This scholarship is now public and no longer a secret.  Marie was overwhelmed with emotion and truly touched when she learned of it.  

 

The goal has been increased to $10,000 and the deadline to January 31, 2020.   The more we raise, the more students we can assist.  Please help us spread the word by sharing this with others in the current, and past MSU community, as well as to anyone who has an appreciation for education and the arts.

 

Again, thanks to you for helping to make this happen!

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