Corporate Magic Stages Grand Farewell for UTA President Spaniolo
College Park Center proved to be the perfect setting for a tribute to the man that made building the world-class venue one of the primary goals of his presidency. Dallas-based Corporate Magic took care of the rest of the details as University of Texas at Arlington donors and supporters gathered to celebrate and thank retiring president James D. Spaniolo for his nine extraordinary years of service to the institution.
The special retirement tribute -- incorporated into the university's annual 1895 Society Gala in deference to Spaniolo's desire to keep the fanfare to a minimum -- nevertheless featured several innovative production elements that gave the evening a distinctive feel.
"Jim is an extremely unassuming guy, and he insisted that we make as little fuss about his retirement as possible," says Jerry Lewis, vice president for communications at The University of Texas at Arlington. "So while we wanted to respect his wishes, it was important to all of us that we give him a proper send-off that paid homage to the enormous impact he has had on this institution. Given our previous experiences with Corporate Magic, we felt entirely comfortable enlisting their support to get the job done in an exceptional -- and memorable -- way."
Led by president and chief creative officer Jim Kirk, the messaging architects at Corporate Magic created a 90-minute program that showcased the many milestones achieved during Spaniolo's presidency. The presentation began with a "virtual choir" comprised of 115 UT Arlington faculty and students, which sang a custom relyriced version of The Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends" to thank 1895 Society contributors as well as president Spaniolo.
Following dinner and remarks by the chair of the 1895 Society, Linda Dipert, a massive 60'-wide by 20'-tall projection screen displayed videotaped highlights from Spaniolo's 2004 inaugural speech in which he laid out the top priorities of his administration, such as boosting enrollment, increasing research expenditures, recruiting new faculty, strengthening the academic profile, transforming into a vibrant residential campus, and constructing major new facilities such as the magnificent College Park District.
UT Arlington provost and vice president for academic affairs Ronald Elsenbaumer then offered his thanks to the outgoing president before introducing a six-minute video tribute that recounted, remarkably, how each of Spaniolo's ambitious goals was achieved over the course of his nine-year tenure. The UT Arlington Orchestra, under the direction of assistant professor Clifton Evans, provided a dramatic live score to the video.
"Those who've been paying attention over the last several years know that UT Arlington has been fundamentally transformed into a truly outstanding educational institution; and nobody deserves more credit than Jim Spaniolo," says Corporate Magic's Jim Kirk. "We were able to vividly illustrate his manifold contributions through the juxtaposition of his inaugural address with imagery of the beautiful campus we all see today. The virtual choir was a fun element that highlighted the vibrant and engaged campus that Spaniolo helped create."
Following closing remarks from President Spaniolo, a nearly 40-person UT Arlington choir led the entire audience in a rousing chorus of UT Arlington's Alma Mater.
"Once again, the team from Corporate Magic delivered a spectacular show on-time, on-budget and on-point," says Lewis. "Their imprint is unmistakable, and it can be found on numerous high-profile, high-impact events held on campus over the past couple of years."
Named for the year Arlington College (now UT Arlington) was founded, the 1895 Society recognizes individuals who provide annual leadership support of $1,000 or more to any of the University's colleges, schools, or programs during the fiscal year.