Trustee Emeritus Paul J. Schupf, LL.D. ’06 Dies

Announcements3 MIN READ
By Laura Meader
December 9, 2019

Colby College has lost a loyal and generous friend. Art collector, business leader, and Colby Trustee Emeritus Paul J. Schupf, LL.D. ’06 died Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. He was 82.

Through his extraordinary generosity, Schupf altered the landscape at Colby with gifts that supported the arts, the sciences, and residential life. The reach of his gifts extends beyond the Museum of Art across campus and now into the Waterville community. His most recent donation was a leadership gift in support of a downtown arts center, currently in design, which will cement his legacy in Waterville. The center will be named in his honor: the Paul J. Schupf Art Center.

“Paul’s public acts of philanthropy are extraordinary, but I will always remember him first for his amazing complexity as a human being: a self-taught art expert, a deep reader and thinker on philosophical and aesthetic issues, a bare-footed Grateful Dead devotee, a tough-minded and unrelenting foe, a soft-hearted and compassionate soul, a true cosmopolitan citizen of the world who was most at home in the quiet of rural life,” said President David A. Greene in a letter to the Colby community.

Born in Antwerp, Belgium, Schupf was a 1958 graduate of Colgate University. He also studied for a year at the Université de Paris. He became an investment professional, starting his own company, Paul J. Schupf Associates, and his success allowed him to support organizations and causes he cared deeply about—namely academics and the arts, including dance, studio art, and music.

He made connections between the art he loved, finding inspiration equally in the work of Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead, Richard Serra and Chuck Close.

One of Colby’s largest donors, Schupf was introduced to Colby in 1985 through the Colby College Museum of Art. A knowledgeable and serious art collector, he contributed several important artworks to the museum, including many paintings from his private collection and works by Richard Serra, Edward Ruscha, Christo, and Alex Katz. When the Paul J. Schupf Wing for the Works of Alex Katz was dedicated in 1996, he helped make possible an American rarity—an entire wing devoted solely to the work of a living artist. He also gave the naming gift for the Paul J. Schupf Sculpture Court.

The Paul J. Schupf Computational Chemistry Laboratory, located in the Paul J. Schupf Scientific Computing Center, was founded in 1994 with gifts from Schupf and two grants from the National Science Foundation. A major gift established the Schupf Residence Hall in 1996. Other significant recent gifts include the Paul J. Schupf Colby/Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Internship and the Lorey/Schupf Handbell Choir.

Schupf also donated his time to the College. He served as a Colby trustee from 1991 to 2006, chairing the Technology Committee and serving as a member on the development, executive, and honorary degree committees. Previously, he served on the Board of Visitors 1985-91 and on the museum’s Board of Governors 1994-2006. He received a Colby Brick Award in 1999. At the time of his death, Schupf was on Colby’s Dare Northward Campaign Cabinet.

A trustee emeritus of his alma mater, Schupf also served on Colgate’s campaign steering committee and taught a course at Colgate on the art of collecting. At Colgate he created the W.S. Schupf Chair in Far Eastern Studies in memory of his father, Dutch national Willem Schupf, as well as the Schupf Studio Art Center and the Schupf Fellowship, providing opportunities for one to two Colgate graduates to attend St. Anne’s College at the University of Oxford each year.

He has also been active on the board of the American Dance Festival, served as president of the Aston Magna Foundation for Music, and was chair of the Musicians Aid Society of New York. He has received honorary degrees from Colby College, Cazenovia College, and Thomas College.