Arts & Culture Patron: Mark & Sandra Auburn

Sandy Korman Auburn was born in Akron and attended Portage Path Elementary, WestJunior High School, and Old Trail School. Mark Auburn came to Akron in time to attend King School, Simon Perkins Junior High School, and Western Reserve Academy. The couple met on the stage of Kolbe Hall at The University of Akron.

Sandy graduated with a B.A. and an M.A. in speech pathology and Mark with a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.A. in English. Mark took aPh.D. in English at the University of Chicago and Sandy a Ph.D. in Speech Pathology at The Ohio State University. From 1969 until 1991, the couple lived and worked in Chicago, Columbus, Jonesboro, Arkansas, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1991, they boomeranged to Akron where Sandy served as Founding Executive Director of the Summit Educational Partnership Foundation (the forerunner of the Summit Education Initiative) Vice President for Workforce Development for the Greater Akron Chamber, and Vice President for Development of the Akron Community Foundation.

Mark served as Senior Vice President and Provost and Dean of Fine and Applied Arts and in other administrative roles at The University of Akron. Both retired from full-time positions in 2006. Both have volunteered extensively on community boards in Akron and Summit County. Sandy’s longest service is to the United Way of Summit and Medina Counties and Mark’s to the American Red Cross of Greater Akron and the Mahoning Valley.

Sandy served as a Trustee of the Akron Summit County Public Library and on the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley NationalPark, among several roles. Mark served on the boards of Ohio Ballet, Akron Civic Theatre, the Akron Symphony Orchestra (President), Western Reserve Public Media (PBS 45/49) (President), the Summit County Arts and Cultural District Board of Trustees (President), and the founding board of ArtsNow. Sandy has been recognized with the Lincoln Gries Alumni Award of Old Trail School, the Judith A. Read Tribute Award for Service to Women and Girls of the Women’s Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation, and jointly with Mark with the H. Peter Burg Award for Community Service of the American Red Cross.

In the last decade, the couple has served together as mentors for Diversity on Board and on development committees for the2020 Library Levy, the Akron Urban League, the Gay Community Endowment of Akron Community Foundation, and (Sandy) Akron Civic Theatre and the Women’s Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation.

Their son David is a Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, director, and film writer. Their daughter-in-law Frances Rosenfeld is Curator of Public Programs for the Museum of the City of New York, and their granddaughter Rebecca Auburn studies at the University of Chicago. Their granddaughter Nora Auburn is a student at The Bronx High School of Science. Their younger son Ben died in 2000.

When we returned to Akron in 1991, Ann Brennan and Mary Ann Jackson were leading an effort to define the arts and cultural sector, one result of which was a campaign for a county sales tax in 2000 which achieved support from more than a third of the voters but not enough to pass. Dan Dahl and now Howard Parr consolidated a continuing role for Akron Civic Theatre as an anchor for economic development in downtown Akron. And it was the leadership in the early teens of Christine Amer Mayer as President of the GAR Foundation (with steady support from the Knight Foundation and Kyle Kutuchief) which led to the formation of ArtsNow and the clear definition of an arts-and-cultural nexus for Summit County.

We are proud of Akron Cultural Plan. The most important constituent-centered articulation of aspirations for arts and culture in Akron and Summit County in the last three decades. A great outcome of the GAR/Knight Arts and Culture Assessment of Summit County. While we are proud of the steady collaborative work of anchor institutions like the Akron Symphony Orchestra, the Akron Art Museum, Tuesday Musical, and the amazing direct relevance of the Myers School of Art and the School of Music and the School of Dance at The University of Akron, we are equally proud of the support for individual artists consolidated under Summit Arts Space. Not to mention the continuing relevance of Summit Choral Society and the Children’s Concert Society and the new developments of Rubber City Jazz and Summit Live365 and the resilience of the Nightlight. And we believe that Rick Rogers’s Art Resources Transformations, doing business as Curated Storefront, on whose founding board Sandy serves, has the potential to become another anchor organization.