Legacy of Love: Planned Gift Enriches Library
When legendary psychology faculty member Rudolf Arnheim made provisions for his estate, he chose to honor the many years he spent at Sarah Lawrence with his wife, Mary, who worked in the campus library.
"I was so touched by Rudy's gift," says Patti Owen, a former colleague of Mary's who appreciates the personal nature of the bequest—as well as the Arnheims' place in Sarah Lawrence history.
While working as the College archivist, Owen initiated an effort to capture Rudolf Arnheim's oral memoirs, which was finally accomplished when he was in his nineties. At the time of his death, Arnheim was 102 years old. A native of Berlin, Arnheim fled Germany in 1933 in response to the rise of Nazism, living briefly in Italy and England before immigrating to the U.S. He joined the Sarah Lawrence faculty in 1943.
A distinguished writer, philosopher, and critic, Arnheim's widely-recognized work focused on "the deeply intertwined relationship between vision and cognition." He published numerous books, including Art and Visual Perception, which has been translated into 14 languages.
A beloved and popular teacher, Arnheim's tenure at the College lasted 26 years. During that time, Mary earned her master's degree and eventually went on to work in the Westchester Library System as well. Bronxville residents, the Arnheims remained active fixtures in the Sarah Lawrence community until they returned to Mary's home state of Michigan.