Friday, 30 July 2010 00:00
Julian Mates, a professor of English at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University and the founding dean of its School of Visual and Performing Arts, died Saturday, July 17 after a long illness. He was 83. Dr. Mates was remembered for his passion for the arts, his encyclopedic knowledge of literature and his prominent role in cultural events during a 51-year career.
From his first days as an English professor in 1959, when the C.W. Post Campus consisted of the elegant houses and outbuildings of a former Gold Coast estate, to his final years as a beloved lecturer in the Hutton House Lectures, Dr. Mates’ enthusiasm for the written, spoken and sung word delighted and inspired students and colleagues alike.
“People loved him. They would come out for anything he wanted to teach,” said Dr. Kay Sato, assistant provost and executive director of the Hutton House Lectures, where Dr. Mates taught everything from Shakespeare to Broadway. “If he were reading Hamlet, you’d believe you were watching it on stage. He was quite an actor himself, even though he was a professor of English.”
Dr. Mates was a towering figure in two C.W. Post schools of study – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which includes the English Department, and the School of Visual and Performing Arts, which he was instrumental in founding and led as its first dean from 1974 through 1987. He also held the title of University dean of the faculty of visual and performing arts, overseeing arts curricula across the University’s six campuses.
“Julian Mates had a profound impact on the arts throughout Long Island University, but his wisdom and dedication were especially loved and honored by countless students at the C.W. Post Campus,” said Dr. Paul H. Forestell, provost of C.W. Post. “As a warm and gifted teacher in both the arts and the humanities, his memory will live in the programs he created and the students he served with such passion and distinction.”
In the early 1960s, Dr. Mates collaborated with the celebrated composer Stefan Wolpe, then chairman of the C.W. Post Department of Music, on the campus alma mater, When Evening Falls.
“The years pass quickly by/ And steal our youth and hopes/ But even time will die (and beauty fly)/ Ere we forget our Post,” goes the chorus of the song, which is played on the carillon atop Pell Hall every day at 8 a.m. and noon.
“The purpose of our song was not just to be sentimental, but to come up with an idea that made some sense,” Dr. Mates in an interview during the 50th anniversary of the Campus. “The idea that even time can die, but nothing will diminish our recollections of the school, made sense.”
Dr. Mates was the founder of the American Theatre Festival, an annual event produced by the Post Theatre Company and coordinated with the theater curriculum. He also served as director of the Writing Center and as graduate adviser for the English Department. C.W. Post students twice honored him with yearbook dedications for his devotion to teaching.
Dr. Mates retired in 1997 but his legacy lived on in the halls and classrooms of the campus and the world of academia at large. Throughout his career, Dr. Mates also lent his expertise to the University of Illinois, Yale University, the City University of New York and the Smithsonian Institute as an evaluator of manuscripts and research projects. He also received numerous awards including the Hofstra College Faculty Fellowship and the Long Island University Trustee Award for Scholarly Achievement.
Dr. Mates is survived by his wife, Barbara Fowles, chair of the Department of Media Arts at C.W. Post, as well as two daughters, a son and three grandchildren.
There will be a memorial service at the C.W. Post Campus in the fall. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Post Library Association.