Artistic contributions paint bright future

Donor contributions have played a huge role in the continual academic and cultural growth of the University of North Florida.

For Judy Eisen, her donations of in-kind artwork and an endowed scholarship during the University’s Power of Transformation campaign were inspired by her desire to cultivate both the creative and the scholarly impulses of UNF art students.

Eisen and her late husband, Saul, donated 15 prints and paintings to the Department of Art and Design to be used for educational purposes. The Eisens’ art collection had grown to more than 100 pieces over the years, and the decision was made to pare that number down by donating some pieces and giving others to their children. Considering Eisen’s long involvement with UNF, which is where she received her master’s degree in counseling psychology in 1978, she said the choice of where to donate some of her collection was simple.

“My husband and I would hope that eventually these prints could be instructive to future students,” she said. “They can see firsthand the different types of print-making techniques in use.”

Debra Murphy, chair of the Department of Art and Design, said the acquisition of such high-quality prints has boosted the practical learning experiences available to her students, who’ve been able to analyze the pieces up close and study the techniques and compositions used in different style and periods.

Paul Karabinis, assistant professor of photography and art history, said the prints and paintings are a significant boost to the mission of the program.

“The Eisens have been great supporters of our program, and their generous gift has been of immediate value to art students,” he said.

Eisen also funded a student study-abroad scholarship that allowed a UNF art student to travel to Italy for six weeks. She said she was eager to meet with the scholarship recipient to discuss her plans for the study-abroad trip and get to know her a little better.

“Giving back to the University isn’t all about a desire to be philanthropic,” Eisen said. “I get a thrill and become inspired by interacting with these students because they are so fabulous and passionate about their studies. When it comes to art students, they’re not going to school because they want to be bond traders. They're committed to their art, and I love being in the presence of their creative energy. It makes reading their applications a truly enjoyable experience.”

She has been a contributing member of the UNF community for decades, even working part time for the University, writing and editing the first course catalog. She is also a member of the Dean’s Leadership Council for the College of Arts and Sciences.