Two UAlbany alumni pledge $600,000 in gifts to the Writers Institute
Gregory Maguire, Class of '76, and Marc Guggenheim, Class of '92, pledge support to Institute's writers and film programs
Two renowned University at Albany alumni, a novelist and screenwriter/producer, announced significant gifts to the NYS Writers Institute, ensuring that the University at Albany campus and local communities will continue to hear from the world’s most acclaimed writers and view history’s most important films.
Gregory Maguire Class of ’76, author of the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, and Marc Guggenheim, Class of ’92, co-creator of the TV series Arrow and screenwriter for the movie "Green Lantern," have made significant six-figure gifts to the Writers Institute, a literary gem based at UAlbany.
“The Writers Institute provides a sort of agora, or ancient Greek market square, for the sharing of ideas and ideals,” said Maguire, whose novel inspired "Wicked," the 6th longest running show in Broadway history.
The Maguire Family Endowment at the NYS Writers Institute
Maguire established The Maguire Family Endowment at the NYS Writers Institute to provide financial support to host authors throughout the year. The $500,000 endowment is in honor of his family and, in particular, his parents John Maguire, Helen Gregory Maguire, and Marie McAuliff Maguire.
“I never knew my birth mother Helen except through legend because she died when I was born,” Maguire said. “However, my father and my second mother (Marie) talked about her so winningly – she was my second mother’s best friend from childhood – that I know her interest in literature was as rich as theirs.”
Maguire says there is great value in the power of public higher education, and in making that education accessible to a part of the population that was previously unable to avail themselves of it.
An English and Studio Art double major at UAlbany, Maguire was influenced by Professor Lillian Orsini, a librarian who taught a graduate level course, the only one on campus on children’s literature at the time.
“She let me take the course as a sophomore,” he said. “I already possessed a belief in the value of good literature for children. Her generosity of spirit in letting me in was nonpareil in my experience.”
While studying at UAlbany, Maguire said he “got on with the job of teaching myself to write. The University allowed me to rev my motor up to the number of RPMs I could tolerate, which allowed me to move quickly toward my goal.” He wrote his first novel as an independent study during his senior year—it was published two years later.
Maguire was a featured guest at the Writers Institute’s inaugural Albany Book Fest this past fall, which drew more than 5,000 participants. With the security of his endowment in place, the event is expected to grow even more in 2019.
The NYSWI Classic Film Series Endowment
Guggenheim, a screenwriter, comic book writer and novelist, pledged $100,000 to the existing NYSWI Classic Film Series Endowment to ensure it continues to provide free cinematic events and film commentary for the UAlbany campus and community.
In addition to co-creating Arrow and serving as screenwriter for "Green Lantern," Guggenheim is executive producer of Guillermo del Toro’s Netflix animated series "Trollhunters" and the spinoff series, "3Below," which premieres this month. He is currently in Prague, filming a television show for Amazon called Carnival Row.
Guggenheim said he made his gift to sustain the Classic Film Series because cinematic history is important to him.
“Having not gone to film school myself, I’m a big believer that classic films are the best teacher for people interested in becoming filmmakers,” he said. “It’s important that these works not fade into obscurity and that people continue to have easy – which often means ‘free’ – access to them. This is important even to people who aren’t interested in pursuing
cinema as a profession – because that can change with exposure to a single movie. All it takes is one film to ignite your imagination.”
Guggenheim emphasized the magic of movies when viewed on a big screen with other moviegoers, “You don’t get as much out of watching something on your iPad as you do when viewing it with a real audience," he said. "And that’s coming from someone who watches a lot of television and movies on his iPad.”
Guggenheim’s love of writing was inspired by Rosemary Hennessy, his thesis advisor in the English Honors Program. He has been back to campus several times over the last few years, and enjoys talking with current students.
Gregory Maguire, left, and Marc Guggenheim (photo credits, Maguire, handout photo; Guggenheim, Getty Images)
““We are deeply grateful for these transformative gifts from two brilliant writers and deeply committed University at Albany alumni, Gregory Maguire and Marc Guggenheim. Both have been past guests of the Writers Institute and they shared insights into their creative imaginations with our students, faculty, alumni, and community members."
"Now, with these major gifts, they are helping to ensure that those meaningful conversations with writers and filmmakers from around the world will continue for many years to come. Their generosity will allow us to offer the very best literary and classic film programming to be found anywhere, free and open to the public.
Thank you, Gregory and Marc. You’re part of the Writers Institute family now.”
— Paul Grondahl, Writers Institute Director
Gregory Maguire at the Albany Book Festival with UAlbany President Havidan Rodriguez and his wife Rosy Lopez on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the University at Albany.
Marc Guggenheim signs a book and speaks to a family of fans at UAlbany’s Page Hall following his guest presentation with the NYS Writers Institute on April 20, 2018,
“It’s wonderful and re-energizing,” Guggenheim said. “I love their curiosity and passion. They’re growing up at such an interesting time, particularly in terms of politics and popular culture. It’s inspiring to see how many of them want to become writers.”
Upon receiving word of Maguire and Guggenheim gifts, Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl said, “We are deeply grateful for these transformative gifts from two brilliant writers and deeply committed University at Albany alumni, Gregory Maguire and Marc Guggenheim. Both have been past guests of the Writers Institute and they shared insights into their creative imaginations with our students, faculty, alumni, and community members."
"Now, with these major gifts, they are helping to ensure that those meaningful conversations with writers and filmmakers from around the world will continue for many years to come. Their generosity will allow us to offer the very best literary and classic film programming to be found anywhere, free and open to the public. Thank you, Gregory and Marc. You’re part of the Writers Institute family now.”
“The New York State Writers Institute is a jewel of this University,” said Fardin Sanai, the university's vice president for advancement, “so these gifts would be notable regardless of who the donors were. What makes them even more meaningful is that two of UAlbany’s foremost creative minds have made certain that future generations will benefit from exposure to great writing and great films, and to the creative process that produced them.”