NEW YORK -- "Oh, how he loved this school!" said Clifton Wharton, former chancellor of the State University of New York, paying tribute to Marvin Feldman, former president of the Fashion Institute of Technology, who died in November at 66. About 250 friends, family and colleagues gathered Monday at a memorial for Feldman in FIT's Haft Auditorium.

Speakers recalled Feldman's optimism and enthusiasm. President of FIT from 1971 to 1992, he was the guiding force behind the school's rise to a broad-based art and design, business and technology institution.

Wharton said he always told Feldman that community schools were not supposed to grant master's degrees, much less bachelor's degrees. "But dealing with Marvin was like dealing with an irresistible force of nature," said Wharton. FIT now grants bachelor's and master's degrees.

Elaine Stone, coordinator of FIT's Small Business Center, recalled meetings with Feldman that were "marvelous, maddening and manic," adding, "I always felt like Wendy flying with Peter Pan, and watching his flights of fancy come to reality."

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