David. C. Copley 1952--2012

The David C. Copley Center for The Study of Costume Design Mourns the loss of its Founding patron

Posted on November 19th 2012 in Obituary

The communities of TFT and the David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design are grieving the loss of their beloved friend and benefactor David C. Copley. He passed away last week near his home in La Jolla.

The Copley Center at TFT exists due to Copley’s substantial endowment and was made possible by his extraordinary vision and generosity. He established the center in 2008 with a $6 million landmark gift and was one of the School's most heartfelt and committed patrons, as well as a prized member of The UCLA Foundation Governors.

"The loss of a personal friend as well as a supporter of the arts is devastating. David was a genuine enthusiast for the field of costume design and a proponent for its key collaborative role in motion picture storytelling," said Professor Deborah Nadoolman Landis MFA '75. An Academy Award nominated costume designer, Landis MFA is the founding director of the Copley Center, occupying the David C. Copley Chair for the Study of Costume Design.

“David Copley’s vision, generosity and kindness have been beyond all measure. We feel so much gratitude for having the privilege of knowing such a remarkable and special man. All of us at TFT mourn the loss of our beloved friend, David. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and close friends at this difficult time. We will keep David’s fine and good spirit close to our hearts always,” said Teri Schwartz, Dean of the School.

Copley’s gift allowed the center to be the first of its kind in the world. In 2012, TFT hosted its annual "Sketch to Screen" event inviting the year’s Costume Designers Oscar®-nominees Sandy Powell, Mark Bridges and Lisy Christl for an in-depth exclusive panel discussion moderated by Landis. The Copley Center continually brings in leading professionals as visiting faculty, provides scholarships and sponsors events and award shows. In 2010, The David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design partnered with Swarovski to host the first Creative Crystal Workshop for its students.

An enthusiastic fan of popular culture as well as fine art, he created the David C. Copley Prize for Most Innovative Costume at San Diego Comic Con. He genuinely enjoyed attending the convention each year with Landis to hand out the prestigious award. A noted patron of the arts, Copley also financed Broadway musicals and art projects by the installation artist Christo, and generously supported the theater program at UC San Diego.

Copley was the owner and publisher of the San Diego Union-Tribune until it sold in 2009. Under Copley’s leadership, the paper won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for exposing the corruption of Congressman Randall “Duke” Cunningham.

David C. Copley was a true philanthropist, turning his passions into extraordinary opportunities. He was socially progressive and sought to uphold his family’s legacy with his hard work and dedication to the arts. The TFT community will miss him enormously.

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