The Alumni Association of The City College of New York will present its 62nd John H. Finley Award jointly to actor F. Murray Abraham and the Theater for the New City (TNC). The presentation will be made at the Association’s 129th Annual Dinner, Wednesday, November 4, at The New York Hilton.
The award, named for CCNY’s third President, is presented annually to New Yorkers who have given exemplary service to their city. Mr. Abraham is a distinguished star of the silver screen and stage who has promoted tolerance, respect and collaboration through the performing arts. He’s also an alumnus of the co-recipient, TNC, which is known for its high artistic standards and community service.
Previous Finley honorees include: former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; civil rights leader Roy Wilkins; playwrights Neil Simon and Terrence McNally; realtor and philanthropist Jack Rudin; actor Tony Randall; actor/activist Harry Belafonte; opera diva Beverly Sills and playwright Arthur Miller.
In addition, the Alumni Association will confer Townsend Harris Medals on seven distinguished alumni for outstanding post-graduate achievements:
• Dr. Joseph Barba, ’75E.E., ’77M.M.E., Dean of The
Grove School of Engineering at CCNY, who has
given over 30 years of outstanding service to his
Alma Mater as a leader, mentor, researcher and
• Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, ’69, historical consultant to the
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and author
of the best-seller “History on Trial: My Day in Court
with David Irving.”
• Dr. Edward C. Mapp, ’53, film historian, author
of “African-Americans and the Oscar” and
past Chairman, Board of Directors, Friends of
Thirteen, the NYC public television station.
• Selwyn Raab, ’56, best-selling author of “Five Families: The Rise, Decline and Resurgence of
America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires,” and noted New York Times journalist.
• Harold Shames, ’44 M.E., former Vice President of the Melard Manufacturing Corp., one of
America’s leading providers of plumbing and hardware accessories; and benefactor of the first
endowed professorship in biomedical engineering at CCNY.
• Dr. Arnold F. Stancell, ’58 Ch.E., former Vice President of Mobil Oil Corp. and member of the
National Academy of Engineering.
• Sidney Stoller, ’43 Ch.E., world-renowned nuclear engineer and founder of S.M. Stoller Corp.,
which has consulted on more than of half of the 100 nuclear power plants operating in the
Alumni Association President Patricia Black ’65, 67M.S.E., will emcee the event. Chris Cimino ’83, and legendary actress Marian Seldes will present the awards. Mr. Cimino is meteorologist for “Today in New York” on WNBC-TV and a 2000 Townsend Harris medalist. Ms. Seldes, whose stage, film and television career has spanned five decades, is a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame. The program also includes the presentation of 75 scholarships and cash awards to deserving CCNY students.
Tickets for the dinner, which cost $180 per person, are available through the Alumni Association office at (212) 234-3000. The New York Hilton is located at 54th Street and Avenue of the Americas, Manhattan. Brief profiles of 2009 John H. Finley Award recipients F. Murray Abraham and the Theater for the New City follow:
F. Murray Abraham
Oscar winner and all-around good guy F. Murray Abraham has been a notable presence on the silver screen, television and theatre stage for over four decades. He earned his stripes in memorable films such as “Serpico,” “All the President’s Men” and “Scarface” and received the Oscar, Golden Globe and Los Angeles Film Critics Award for his portrayal of Antonio Salieri in the 1984 film “Amadeus.” Mr. Abraham’s stage career has been equally impressive, with credits in many Shakespearean productions, including portraying Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice” for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England. Other stage credits include the works of master playwrights Harold Pinter, David Mamet, Luigi Pirandello, Edward Albee, Moliere and experimental work with Pina Bausch, Richard Forman, Linda Mussman and Joe Chaiken. In addition, Mr. Abraham, a one-time theatre professor at Brooklyn College, is the narrator for PBS’ “Nature.” He is a Fox Foundation recipient and the author of “The Dream,” published by Faber & Faber. Mr. Abraham and his wife of 47 years have two children.
The Theater for the New City
F. Murray Abraham, Sam Shepard, Tim Robbins and numerous other influential theater artists and writers of the last quarter century have all passed through its doors. Co-founded by Obie Award-winning actress Crystal Field, the Lower Manhattan-based Theater for the New City is a Pulitzer Prize–winning center for the creation and performance of new American theater. Inspired by Ms. Field’s belief that “theater is a civic necessity and not a luxury,” it seeks relevant new writing and provides opportunity for young talent to showcase their work. The theater also endeavors to make the performing arts accessible to the community through its Community Engagement Program, which offers various popular events. These include the award-winning annual Street Theater Tour, the Village Halloween Costume Ball and the Lower East Side Festival of The Arts. TNC premieres more than 35 new full-length dramas, comedies and musicals annually. Under Ms. Field’s leadership, it has produced over 800 new plays and counts a Pulitzer Prize and over 43 Obie awards for excellence in every theatrical discipline. Prior to founding TNC, Ms. Field was a member of the original Lincoln Center Company. She was also a member of the Judson Poets Theater and Andre Gregory’s Theater of the Living Arts. She won an Obie Award for her performance in Arthur Sainer’s “Day Old Bread.”