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Updated 11:00 AM March 22, 2004



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From the 'West Wing' to Rackham

A recently restored architectural treasure on campus opens its doors to the public April 1, providing an opportunity for visitors to see the bold colors and intricate details that have emerged during a four-year, $27 million restoration and renovation.

Anna Deavere Smith (Photo by Janette Beckman)

The public can rediscover the beauty of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies 11 a.m.-5 p.m. April 1, and hear actress, author, playwright, professor and scholar Anna Deavere Smith speak at 7 p.m. in Rackham Auditorium.

Smith is an actress on the NBC series "The West Wing," author of the book "Talk to Me: Travels in Media & Politics," playwright of "Twilight: Los Angeles 1992" and a member of the faculty at New York University.

She will explore the complexities of diversity in America through character performances. Her piece is entitled "Snapshots: Portraits of America in Change." Smith was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Fellowship for creating a "new form of theater—a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism and intimate reverie."

The two-day event, which concludes April 2 with Graduate Student Appreciation Day, is titled "Rediscover Rackham: Celebrating a Campus Jewel."

Dean Earl Lewis says Rackham is particularly significant because it was the first building in the United States built specifically for graduate education. Playing host to hundreds of events each year, the copper-roofed limestone building also is a cherished public space. Lewis says Rackham's elegant design prompts many to hail it as one of the most impressive buildings on campus.

"There's a real sense that people identify with the character, the quality of the building," Lewis said. "We see this as an architectural jewel of the campus. The restoration puts the Rackham Graduate School in a better position to serve the University's graduate students and faculty, the community, and the cause of graduate education worldwide."

The first phase of the project started in spring 2000.

Additional information is available at

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