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Portland State University mourns the passing of Arlene Schnitzer
Author: University Communications
Posted: April 4, 2020

Portland State University leaders were saddened to hear of the passing of Arlene Schnitzer on Saturday. The generosity of Schnitzer, her husband Harold and her son Jordan has been important to the arts programs at Portland State and across Portland. 

“Arlene Schnitzer’s name is synonymous with advancing the arts in Portland and it’s true for Portland State as well,” said PSU Interim President Stephen Percy. “The results of her generosity and that of her family will be forever treasured at PSU. We wish her family peace and comfort as they memorialize Arlene’s extraordinary life.” 

In 2013, the Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation funded the creation of the Arlene Schnitzer Visual Arts Prize at the PSU College of the Arts. The annual juried prize honors the work of exceptional students in the School of Art + Design. The prize was launched to help raise awareness of the high quality of the visual arts programs at Portland State University and to honor Arlene Schnitzer's leadership in the arts. 

Arlene Schnitzer personally supported construction of the glass tower for PSU’s Lincoln Hall, the home of the university’s music, theater and film programs. The tower, which honors Arlene’s late husband, Harold Schnitzer, was completed in 2014 and includes instructional studios, an art gallery and a black box theater. 

Last year, Arlene attended the gala opening of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University in Fariborz Maseeh Hall on Southwest Broadway Avenue. The museum aligns with Jordan’s vision of “art for all” and its galleries feature works by Northwest artists, faculty and students as well as exhibitions by national and international artists. With a $5 million gift to establish the museum, Jordan has continued a powerful legacy left by his mother and father, whose gifts funded projects on campus in excess of $4.5 million dollars. 

“Arlene Schnitzer’s impact on the College of the Arts cannot be overstated,” said Leroy Bynum, dean of PSU’s College of the Arts. “Her dedication to and generous support of arts education at Portland State has left an indelible imprint on the minds and hearts of countless students and faculty. She was a treasured champion of the arts at PSU and throughout Oregon.”