Impact of art on learning continues to inspire LA-area alum to give

May 26, 2011

Marylyn Ginsburg-Klaus '56, G'57A native of rural upstate New York, Marylyn Ginsburg-Klaus ’56, G’57 credits Syracuse University for opening the door to a world full of opportunity. “I shall be forever grateful to SU for providing me a scholarship and making it possible to get a college education,” she says. “My education meant everything to me, giving me many more choices in what I could do with my life than if I hadn’t had such an education.” Her four-year, full-tuition scholarship resulted in art education and master’s degrees, fully preparing her for teaching positions in North Syracuse, New York, and Highland Park, New Jersey.

Drawn to the warmer weather in Southern California, Ginsburg-Klaus has lived in the Los Angeles area for over 40 years. Eventually settling in the Palos Verdes Peninsula area, she taught art classes at Palos Verdes High School, where her three sons attended several years later. It was through her teaching that she was able to see the true impact of art on students, and it is this experience that fuels her financial support of SU and, specifically, the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA).

“I have been providing gifts to the college for many years, and in 2010, I created the Ginsburg-Klaus Art in Los Angeles Practicum Week,” she explains, “which supports my belief in education and the arts as key to developing a quality of life that makes it all worthwhile.” Also known as Art in LA Week, the practicum provides a visual arts immersion experience for deserving SU grad students. Ginsburg-Klaus most recently gave a substantial gift continuing her support of the college.

Marylyn’s belief in education bears true in her own endeavors. She continued her own education by getting a law degree, then established the Grand House Property Management Company. She also channeled her creativity into many business undertakings in the San Pedro, California, area, including the transformation of a neglected property into a bed and breakfast and the creation of The Whale & Ale pub-restaurant and The Grand Emporium: Gift, Home & Garden Shop.

“I found that after my children had grown and I needed to find new ways to make a living, I was able to use my education in the visual arts in many other areas in addition to teaching,” Ginsburg-Klaus says. “I enjoyed the new challenges. In fact, I continue to see new creative ideas and only wish I had the time, energy, and finances to do more!”

Ginsburg-Klaus claims to be semiretired now, but together with her husband, Chuck Klaus, she continues to be very active in community activities, including the Rotary Club and various local art, music, and theater organizations. She is currently a member of the board of the Norris Center for the Performing Arts and both she and Chuck serve on SU’s VPA Advisory Council.

She has also served as president of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and Soroptimist International of the LA Harbor, as well as holding positions on many other boards, including those of Marymount College, the San Pedro Business Improvement District, and the Palos Verdes Sunset Rotary Club, where she spent many years as the international service chair. This inspired her to host several young people from around the world in the GSE Program and to participate in District 5280 Polio Corrective Surgery projects in India. In addition, she was able to secure a Rotary matching grant for an orphan house in Romania and club support for projects in Mexico and Zimbabwe.

Awards and recognition have included being a California delegate for the National Security Forum, receiving an Outstanding Citizenship Award from the Harbor Area YWCA and an Outstanding Businesswoman’s Award from California Governor’s Conference for Women, and being named a National Pacesetter Finalist by the Roundtable for Women in Food Service Business. Most recently, she was honored by the Grand Vision Foundation at an event for the Warner Grand Theater and as a “Legend in our Time” of the Volunteer Center.

Gardening and supporting the visual and performing arts continue to be pleasures for Ginsburg-Klaus. She and her husband enjoyed hosting SU students and meeting with VPA Dean Ann Clarke, faculty member Stephen Zaima, and Assistant Dean for Advancement Jeff Comanici during Art in LA Week earlier this year, and hope to do so again in the future.

Helping future students is important to Ginsburg-Klaus. “It would have been impossible for me to have enjoyed many years of teaching and then starting my own businesses without my education at SU,” she explains. “It has meant everything to me, and it can open the doors to a very satisfying and productive life for others. I will continue to encourage young people to consider SU in their future.”

She also adds her support for the University’s philanthropic efforts. “Everyone must be aware of the impact that the current economy has had on education at all levels. It’s of great importance that those of us who have been fortunate enough to be able to obtain a college degree do whatever we can to financially support the institution that provided our education.”