October 12, 2015


SUBJECT:    Arthur Wagner Memorial Event Location Change and Considerations

The celebration of life for Arthur Wagner, founding chair of the University of California, San Diego Department of Theatre and Dance and philanthropist of the arts, will take place today, October 12, 4:00 p.m., at the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre in the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Theatre District on campus. This is a change from the Mandell Weiss Theatre, now unavailable. A reception in the theatre district will follow the ceremony.

Wagner died at his home in San Diego, Sept. 21, 2015 at the age of 92. He joined the “Department of Drama” as its founding chair in 1972. Under his guidance, the department grew from an undergraduate program with a dozen students to the Department of Theatre and Dance, one of the top three graduate theater training programs in the nation. While he formally retired from the faculty in 1991, Wagner remained deeply involved with the campus, teaching and mentoring students, attending faculty meetings and providing guidance and support for the arts at UC San Diego.

Campus parking for the memorial event is expected to be impacted. Parking will be made available at the Birch Aquarium with shuttle buses running between the aquarium and theatre district beginning at approximately 3:20 p.m. Attendees are asked to arrive at the aquarium early enough to allow for the shuttle trip to the theatre. Those planning to attend from campus are asked to use the Loop shuttles rather than drive.

A schedule of speakers will help commemorate Wagner. They include: Cecil Lytle, pianist and emeritus faculty; Wayne Wagner, Arthur’s son and Master of Ceremonies; Molli Wagner, Arthur’s wife; Pradeep K. Khosla, Chancellor of UC San Diego; Irwin Jacobs, fellow faculty and friend; Jim Carmody, Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance; Christopher Ashley, artistic director of La Jolla Playhouse; Kyle Donnelly, holder of the Wagner Chair in Acting; Joseph Sladkus, nephew of Arthur; Wayne Dernetz, family friend; Michael C. Addison, former chair and provost; alumni John Wesley, M.F.A., ’77 and faculty member Eva Barnes, M.F.A., ’83.

N’Jameh Camara will perform a song with piano accompaniment by Linda Vickerman.

Arthur and Molli Wagner showed great generosity in enhancing the vision of UC San Diego and the Division of Arts and Humanities. The couple received the prestigious Chancellor’s Medal in 2013, the highest honor given by the campus to recognize exceptional service in support of the university’s mission. In 2012, the couple established the Theatre and Dance Student Productions Endowment with a lead gift of $2.2 million. The Wagner’s also served as co-chairs of that fundraising initiative which seeks to provide continued funding for student productions, despite state budget cuts. The couple contributed to the Molli and Arthur Wagner Dance Building, the Wagner Endowed Graduate Acting Fellowship and the Arthur and Molli Wagner Endowed Chair in Acting—the only one of its kind in the nation. In recognition of the Wagner’s' generosity, the campus named the Arthur Wagner Theatre and the Wagner New Play Festival in their honor.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in his memory be made to the Theatre and Dance Student Productions Endowment, which was established by the Wagner’s to ensure that "the show goes on" for UC San Diego students. Donations can be made online by visiting and clicking "Give Now." Checks can also be made payable to the UC San Diego Foundation in Wagner's honor, with "Theatre & Dance Student Productions Endowment (4640)" in the memo, and mailed to 9500 Gilman Drive, #0940, La Jolla, CA 92093-0940.

Cristina Della Coletta
Dean, Division of Arts and Humanities

Jim Carmody, Professor and Chair,
Department of Theatre and Dance