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A butterfly among moths

November 03, 2009

Re "August Coppola: 1934-2009, professor, member of noted film family," Obituary, Oct. 30

I was saddened to read of August Coppola's death. I was film department chair at San Francisco State's School of Creative Arts during his tenure as dean.

A controversial administrator, he devised huge projects that he expected faculty to carry out without increased funds. He aimed high, refusing to be constrained by the paltry budget, but he brought stars to the school -- Gina Lollobrigida came.

Meetings were memorable, both for Dean Coppola's volatile moods and for the coffee served from a gorgeous brass espresso machine he had specially installed. Italian opera was the background to discussions. Evening meetings included elegant meals delivered by the cafeteria chefs he challenged to greatness.

Looking back from today's tragic place, I see Coppola as an exciting force in the Cal State system, a butterfly among the moths, antithetical to the bean counters who have run higher education into the ground.

Margo Kasdan

Seal Beach

The writer is a professor emeritus, San Francisco State University.

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