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Michael F. Brown reflects on his ten years as president at the SAR Gala Celebrating 50 Years of Resident Scholar Fellows.

Honoring both fifty years of Resident Scholar Fellows and ten years of Michael F. Brown’s presidency at the School for Advanced Research (SAR), 105 of SAR’s esteemed supporters, board members, and friends gathered in the newly named Michael F. Brown Plaza for a celebratory evening of bidding, buying, dining, and mingling on the evening of June 8, 2024. Guests remarked on the convivial atmosphere ripe with merriment and good cheer. Embraced by the warm summer air, the gala unfolded with effortless fluidity, raising an unexpected $280,000 for future educational programming and scholarship.

The event kicked off with a reception on the patio and a silent auction of twenty-seven donated items in the historic Dobkin Boardroom, formerly the living room of the White sisters’ 1927 El Delirio home. The silent auction included Native American art, pottery, handcrafted jewelry, and items from the estate of Barbara Tedlock, a former resident scholar at SAR. Elegantly-clad in the indicated “Santa Fe Festive” wear, guests engaged in good-spirited bidding while connecting with friends old and new. As the auction closed and the winners were revealed, guests made their way to the tented plaza for dinner.

Amid the golden glow of the string lights and tangerine votives, the centerpieces and crystalline stemware sparkled against the backdrop of the understated elegance of the rustic table settings. Wine and conversation flowed with ease as the soothing melodies of Pat Malone’s guitar filled the air, setting the tone for the exquisite three-course meal provided by Adobo Catering. As the second course ended, Paul Thompson, auctioneer extraordinaire, and James Rutherford, adept crowd facilitator, stepped onstage and dove into the live auction. From the cadence of Paul’s voice to James’s vibrant personality and pink suit to their playful exchange with the audience, the auctioneering duo garnered enthusiastic participation from the crowd.

The live auction closed with something specifically made for the gala by former Resident Artist and current SAR Board member Kathleen Wall. It was a sculpture of an SAR scholar sitting on a pile of books bearing names on their bindings that are familiar to the SAR community, such as All That She Carried, Grounded in Clay, and House Made of Dawn.

With his ten years as SAR President rapidly coming to a close, Michael Brown shared his reflections on the past decade. Filled with gratitude, he reminisced about challenges and accomplishments.

Former Resident Scholar (2017-2018 Weatherhead Fellow) Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo spoke next, sharing stories about the impact of SAR’s Resident Scholar Program and how essential her own experience was to her career. Sharing her joy in mentoring young Mellon scholars and witnessing their careers excel, Pierrette highlighted the importance of SAR’s Mellon Fellowship, which supports Latinx scholarship.

Guests watched a short video featuring Director of Scholar Programs Paul Ryer and various former resident scholars emphasized the impact of the program in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, and social sciences over the past fifty years.

After the video, SAR Board Chair Ken Cole spoke about Michael Brown’s accomplishments during his time as president. Ken asked fellow Board member Susan Foote to join him at the podium.

Susan Foote remembered when Michael interviewed to be president of SAR. Everything was going very well, and then Michael said that there was one thing he needed to tell them about himself. They were going to find out sooner or later, and it might as well be now. He was known, on occasion, to wear bow ties. Susan said that she wondered what this said about him as person and what sort of president he would be. Susan Foote told the gathered group that she couldn’t be more pleased with Michael Brown’s leadership over his past ten years at SAR.

To close the evening, Susan Foote and Ken Cole presented Michael Brown with a plaque, publicly announcing the School for Advanced Research Board’s decision to name the place where they were gathered the Michael F. Brown Plaza in honor of his successful run as president of SAR.

All images by Garret P. Vreeland