The UNLV College of Fine Arts and Dean Nancy J. Uscher are excited to announce the very special 20th Annual College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame gala celebration for 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2 at Fontainebleau Las Vegas.
Honorees include master illusionist David Copperfield; comedic icon Shecky Greene (posthumously); and multidisciplinary artist and educator Rita Deanin Abbey (posthumously). Recipient of the Koep Dean's Medal is critically-acclaimed composer and conductor Keith Thompson. Carnell Johnson — best known as 'Golden Pipes' who sings the national anthem before each Vegas Golden Knights game — receives the CFA Limelight Award. Celebrated soprano Cecilia Violeta López is the Alumna of the Year.
Honorary co-chairs for the gala celebration are Don and Dee Snyder who have lived in Las Vegas and actively engaged in the community for 36 years.
Don has had a diverse and successful professional career in banking, gaming/hospitality, and higher education. This includes service as chairman and ceo of First Interstate Bank of Nevada (now Wells Fargo), president of Boyd Gaming Corporation and president of UNLV. He currently sits on the board of directors for Western Alliance Bancorporation, a NYSE-listed company.
Don provided a leading volunteer role in the creation of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. He has served as chairman of the board for 24 years — 12 years before opening and 12 years since.
Years before assuming senior leadership positions at UNLV in 2010, Don had a long history of volunteer engagement with the university. He became a member of the board for the UNLV Foundation in 1988, served five years as chairman of the board, and chaired UNLV’s comprehensive capital campaign, which successfully concluded in 2009.
Dee, Don’s wife of more than 52 years, was an early member of the board which created the Discovery Children’s Museum. She has been a full partner in his professional and community life. They are proud to have been jointly inducted into UNLV’s Palladium Society, to have CCSD recognize their contributions to education with the Don & Dee Snyder Elementary School, and to have the Dee & Don Snyder Founders Room at The Smith Center.
The Hall of Fame was founded in 2003 to honor those who have made a significant impact in the areas of visual arts, performing arts, and/or architecture. Past inductees include Ann-Margret; Tony Curtis; Phyllis McGuire; Robert Goulet; The Killers; Wayne Newton; Liberace; Clint Holmes; architects Tony Marnell, John Klai, Tom Schoeman, and William Snyder; Penn & Teller; Lance Burton; and Siegfried & Roy, among others.
About the Honorees
- David Copperfield Emmy Award-winning magician known for his artful combination of storytelling and illusion, described as “the greatest illusionist of our time” by Oprah Winfrey.
- Shecky Greene Las Vegas Strip headliner for over 30 years whose comic genius was described by Bob Hope as the “comedian’s comedian.”
- Rita Deanin Abbey Multidisciplinary artist and among the first art professors at UNLV, where she taught for 22 years. While there, she earned a stellar reputation among her students and helped inspire the next generation of artists.
Koep Dean's Medal Recipient
- Keith Thompson Critically-acclaimed composer, conductor, musical director, and founder and host of The Composers Showcase of Las Vegas.
CFA Limelight Award
- Carnell Johnson Famously known as ‘Golden Pipes,’ he is the voice singing the national anthem at Vegas Golden Knights games. This Las Vegas native is a classically trained bass-baritone with a music degree from UNLV.
Alumna of the Year
Cecilia Violeta López A celebrated soprano, this singing actress has been named one of opera’s “25 Rising Stars” by Opera News.
About the UNLV College of Fine Arts
The College of Fine Arts educates, empowers, and engages creative people to become visionary change-makers in the arts through acts of imagination. At UNLV we believe the arts are an essential good for society. We make education relevant and accessible through our programs and outreach. We create new knowledge in the arts. We celebrate independent thought and the power of bringing people together to foster creativity. And, we value:
● A spirit of generosity
These values underpin all our efforts and guide us in fulfilling our mission.