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The Crowd: Women of Chapman luncheon honors retiring university president, pledges support for aspiring filmmakers

They are one of Orange County's longest running and most loyal charitable support groups. The Women of Chapman are proud of a 45-year association with the university, a tenure during which they have raised and contributed some $7 million. Now boasting a roster of 250 prominent local women, the ladies have pledged three major grants in support of Chapman University advancement.

Currently, the fulfillment of a $1-million pledge to the Marybelle and Sebastian Paul Musco Center for the Arts is in its final fundraising stages and two new endeavors are being launched.

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The first is a $500,000 pledge in support of the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts Digital Media Arts. Second is another $1-million grant in support of Chapman's Center for Science and Technology, due to open in 2017.

Recently, the dedicated women converged for a summer gathering over lunch in a bayside dining room at the Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach. Their purpose was to provide an annual thank you for the serious dedication of their members, to welcome some 20 new Women of Chapman donors and, most importantly, give a sentimental send-off for retiring Chapman President Jim Doti and his professor wife, Lynne Pierson Doti. Additionally, the event was staged to introduce the community to an incoming board of directors.

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President Doti will officially retire Aug. 31 after 25 years serving as Chapman's president. His tenure has seen the small local school transform into a major private American university listed in the top 10 rankings among multiple surveys and national statistics of higher educational excellence. Doti's unwavering pursuit of said excellence has inspired O.C. donors of note to pledge tens of millions toward supporting a world-class campus institution that attracts a faculty of serious pedigree, including Pulitzer, Nobel and other distinguished, prize-winning teachers of international reputation.

Doti will retire and return to his former life as a professor of economics. He joined his wife Lynne as she was presented a bouquet of red roses by event co-chairs Donna Bunce and Donna Calvert for her 45 years of service to Women of Chapman, as well as her impressive tenure at the university teaching economics.

A major highlight of the luncheon was the presentation by Women of Chapman President Barbara Eidson of a check for $224,500 as part of the group's 2015-16 contribution. Donor Adrienne Brandes, responsible for a personal $1-million pledge to Chapman, was called upon to introduce students from Dodge College who received grants designed to support their student film projects, which are required for graduation.

The 2015 recipients were Wyatt Lake ($3,500), Andrew Primavera ($3,500), Robert Bracker ($10,000), Kendall Goldberg ($12,000) and Lane Lyle ($16,000). The funds will enable the students to finance their work.

Bob Bassett, dean of Dodge College, was in attendance explaining to the crowd the importance of the student film as an entry point into the difficult professional arena of Hollywood. Brandes hosted the students who showed video clips of their works in progress to the luncheon crowd. "This is where some of your money is going," she told the women, applauding the young creative talent. "The next generation of filmmakers is getting their start here."

President-elect of Women of Chapman will be social standout Anne Manassero taking the realm from Eidson. Loyal devotees on her team include Mona Lee Nesseth, Andi Doddridge, Susan Villeneuve, Donna Di Bari, Sue Hook, Donna Bianci, Kathy Hamilton and Jacqui Penner.

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B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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