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In the Loop
Friends and Giving : May 25, 2018

First annual Star Supporter Award recognizes longtime COTA friends

By Alia Salem (BS English ’20)

College of the Arts Dean Lucinda Lavelli awarded the inaugural Star Supporter Award to Dr. Norman and Roslyn Levy as well as Dr. Ira and Gerri Gessner on April 12 at the UF Symphony Orchestra concert. The award, which will become an annual recognition from the dean, commemorates exceptional UF donors and supporters for their outstanding work in the College of the Arts community.

“Artists, whether professional or avocational, ply their craft for an audience,” Lavelli said. “The Star Supporter Award is a new recognition for long standing arts patrons for the University of Florida College of the Arts who have fulfilled that important role of audience member.”

The UF Symphony Orchestra hosted that evening's performance as a tribute to Lavelli, but she took the opportunity to recognize the Levys and Gessners for their consistent support to the college.

“For over 46 years, Norm was a part of the medical community and he and Roz have been active in the arts community and the College of the Arts,” Lavelli said.  “Ira and Gerri have supported arts events and attended performances in the college, university and community for over 53 years.”

Both the Levys and Gessners were charmingly surprised by the award.  Roslyn Levy expressed her appreciation and astonishment towards receiving the Star Supporter.  

“My husband and I were surprised and very honored, to receive this award from Dean Lavelli—especially at a reception that was planned to honor her,” Levy said.  “We are constantly impressed by the talent and creativity of students and faculty in the College of the Arts and feel privileged to be able to attend so many outstanding performances.”

Dr. Ira Gessner was also extremely surprised and honored to receive this award.  He reflected on his continued appearance at events, chalking it up to simply wanting to attend. 

“Well, I think the reason we continue to attend is because we enjoy it,” Gessner said.  “It’s part of why we enjoy living in Gainesville: the opportunity to be in the presence of such talented people.  It’s rewarding spiritually and intellectually to understand the work and the effort that is put into each performance.”