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Celebrity gala to honor Mark Medoff, raise funds for NMSU lecture series

Mark Medoff believes among the most satisfying results of his long, prosperous career are the many friendships he has nurtured along the way. Some of his celebrity friends will be in Las Cruces in September to honor the Tony award-winning playwright and to fund an endowment in his name at New Mexico State University.

?Mark Medoff: Far From Finished? fundraiser will honor the award-winning playwright and long-time NMSU faculty member and support an endowment that will bring celebrity lecturers to NMSU. (Photo by Mike Jones)

?Mark Medoff: Far From Finished? will be hosted by Emmy-nominated actor Jeffrey Tambor to raise money for the Mark Medoff Visiting Lecture Endowment. Scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 6, the fundraiser will include two separate programs: a dinner and silent auction at Atkinson Recital Hall; followed by performances by the Las Cruces Symphony and the NMSU Dance program along with a roast by Medoff?s celebrity friends at NMSU?s Center for the Arts.

?The purpose of the lectureship is to bring notable people in the film/TV and theater industries to campus for intense residencies and a public presentation,? Medoff explained.

In addition to Tambor, Medoff?s special guests include actors Linda Hamilton, Richard Dreyfuss, Chris McDonald and Jesse Plemons, as well as NMSU alumnus and TV producer Don Foster. Neil Patrick Harris and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez are invited guests.

?Mark Medoff is a national treasure and a true blessing for NMSU,? said Christa Slaton, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. ?He has given so much of himself to this university and to his students over the years. This lecture series will be a continuing gift to this community for years to come.?

A long-time resident of Las Cruces, Medoff has worked at NMSU for almost 50 years. The idea for the fundraiser came from event director and Medoff?s son-in-law, Ross Marks.

?The lecture series is going to be Mark?s lasting legacy here in Las Cruces,? Marks said. ?We wanted to honor him while he?s still young enough to be there and participate.

?Mark has been a friend and mentor and a huge inspiration to people in the arts in Las Cruces. With all his success, he?s been extremely loyal to NMSU. First and foremost, he is an educator; he?s never stopped teaching.?

?I still love going to the classroom,? Medoff said. ?At my age I actually know two or three things worth passing on. It shocks me to be as old as I am, but thrills me that I can still go to class with young people who keep me febrile, who challenge me to communicate what I know to them, and often express their gratitude for our time together. I came out of retirement in 2007 to help create the Creative Media Institute, and I?m blessed to be working with a faculty driven to create a nationally ranked program.?

Tickets for the dinner cost $300 per person, which begins with the silent auction at 5:30 p.m. in Atkinson Recital Hall; the cost of the dinner also includes admission to the program at NMSU?s Center for the Arts, as well as an after-party at Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces. A table seating 11 people costs $3,000. The symphony and dance performances followed by the roast will begin at 8 p.m. and tickets range from $50-$100 depending on seating location. To purchase tickets visit http://bit.ly/WLP9ww. For more information call 575-646-6149.

Items up for bid during the silent auction include TV and movie memorabilia, as well as a behind-the-scenes tour of the ?Mike and Molly? set and Warner Brothers lot. (Foster is an executive producer on the show).

The first of Medoff?s guest lecturers ? described as a ?major film and television personality? ? will be announced during the event. The lecture is scheduled for spring 2015.

?The interdependence, the shared responsibility and the sense of family in making movies and theater appeal to me above all else,? Medoff said. ?In my worlds of theater and movies, the highlights are the people I?ve worked with, many of whom became friends for life.?

Event sponsors include the College of Arts and Sciences, Bravo Mic and the Las Cruces Sun-News.