"I loved my time at Johns Hopkins," says Christina Mattin, a 1975 graduate of what is now the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, without a second's hesitation.
The first member of the Mattin family in several generations to turn down an invitation to enroll at Cornell--"much to my family's horror!"--the New York native was attracted to Hopkins by the prospect of small classes, close interaction with faculty and the possibility of an internship in a congressional office in nearby Washington, D.C.
After attending an all-female prep school, the idea of being a member of the first coed class of undergraduates at Hopkins held a kind of pioneering challenge, Mattin admits. But she claims that the small pool of women students was an advantage to her in athletics. Although "a complete novice at lacrosse," she made the women's team and also played varsity tennis.
With a major in social sciences, she landed that hoped-for congressional internship, spending a semester in the offices of U.S. Sen. James L. Buckley of New York. Academics at Hopkins more than met her expectations as well. "My favorite professor was Phoebe Stanton in art history," Mattin remembers. "She was unbelievable."
There was not a great deal of emphasis on the arts at Homewood during her student years--a situation she has helped to change dramatically through her leadership support for a new student arts center named in honor of her family.
The Mattin Center, to be dedicated on Friday, April 20, houses a studio theater, a digital media center, two large art classrooms, a dance studio, music rehearsal spaces and practice rooms, darkrooms, meeting rooms and office space for a host of student groups.
An interesting feature of the center is the luminous appearance of the exterior signs, an effect created by a special pigment using technology developed by the Mearl Corp.
After graduating from Hopkins, Mattin joined Mearl, a manufacturer of synthetic pigments used in products such as paints and cosmetics that had been founded by her grandfather Harry E. Mattin. During two decades in sales and marketing at the company, she served as vice president and led the development of a successful new division that specialized in iridescent films. The company has since been bought by a Fortune 500 company.
Christina Mattin's exceptional commitment for the student arts center, initially made anonymously, was the impetus that made the new facility a reality. She made the gift in memory of her grandparents, Harry and Edith Mattin and Mauricio and Josefa Heusch, and her parents, Henry and Sylvia Mattin, and in honor of her children, Edward and Sandra Fischetti.
"I support things I am interested in," she comments, and clearly the arts are a priority. "My family started taking me to museums and galleries as soon as I was able to walk," she remembers, and it is a pattern she has repeated with her two children.
"I wanted Johns Hopkins to have an arts center," continues Mattin, a trustee of the university. "With all the other strengths at Hopkins, it seemed to me a real void on the campus."
The Mattin Center, she hopes, will help provide a healthy balance in the lives of Hopkins students, offering an attractive setting and convenient facilities for students interested in music and the performing and fine arts.
She notes that Hopkins has traditionally attracted a majority of students in the sciences, and that these students often have a high level of artistic talent. "The center will give them an opportunity they might not otherwise have had to explore their creative sides," she observes. "It might also help to attract an even more diverse group of students to Hopkins."
Mattin also has endowed the Sylvia Mattin Heusch Scholarship Fund at the Krieger School in memory of her mother, and she made a gift to the U.S. Conference of Mayors for cities with arts programs that reach out to youngsters at risk.