Chapman Celebrates Outstanding Alumni 3

Chapman University will honor 
philanthropists Dale (’58) and Sarah Ann Fowler and “Stranger Things” creators Matt and Ross Duffer (’07) at annual 
black-tie gala in Musco Center for the Arts

Chapman University’s annual black-tie gala, Chapman Celebrates, will honor alumnus Dale (’58) and wife, Sarah Ann Fowler, and alumni Ross and Matt Duffer (’07), creators of Netflix’ runaway hit, Stranger Things, on Saturday, November 4th, in the Marybelle and Sebastian P. Musco Center for the Arts on the Chapman University campus. In recognition for their transformative support of the university, the Fowlers will receive the Citizens of the Year Award. The Duffer Brothers will be recognized with the Alumni Achievement in the Arts Award. In addition to a private reception and dinner, the event features a glittering Broadway-style musical revue featuring 100 Chapman students from the College of Performing Arts.

Think Big, Start Small

Dale Fowler grew up in Santa Ana, the son of a construction contractor. He graduated from Chapman University (then known as Chapman College) in 1958 with a B.A. in Economics. Given his strong work ethic, Mr. Fowler worked part-time as a car salesman while he attended Chapman and continued after graduation. Even though he had no background in real estate, he invested what he could save in a small property in Huntington Beach and got a loan to build apartments.

From these humble beginnings, Mr. Fowler went on to build Fowler Properties, an Anaheim real estate investment and management firm, that grew to establish him as one of the major architects of Orange County as we know it, building, managing and leasing residential and industrial properties throughout the cities of Anaheim, Orange and Ontario and Santa Ana.

Mr. Fowler and his wife Sarah Ann have a strong commitment to philanthropy. Together, they have made many generous gifts to children’s causes, education and the arts. Their generosity to Chapman University, where he is a member of the board of trustees, is reflected in the names of two schools: the Dale E. Fowler School of Law and the newly-established Fowler School of Engineering.

The Duffers’ swift rise as creative leaders in the fast-growing business of streaming media and video-on-demand entertainment began on a path launched at Chapman’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. They say their best lesson at Dodge College was this – think big, but start small.

“A lot of people come into film school and want to – and we made the same mistake – they want to make a masterpiece right away. And it’s like, just focus and try to tell a story,” Ross Duffer says.

Today, there’s nothing small about the success the twins have made with the storytelling skills they honed at Chapman. Stranger Things earned 18 Emmy nominations, critical acclaim that ranged from The Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone and the adoration of fans who made the tale one of the most-watched television series of 2016. The New Yorker called it “astoundingly efficient storytelling, eight hours pass in a blink.”

Of course, in reality, creative results take a little longer to deliver. The brothers say their film education and the connections they made at Chapman prepared them well to meet those challenges.

“When you move into Dodge, it’s this beautiful community of film nerds and they’re all into the same stuff that you’re into. … That’s what’s key — being in a group of really, really smart kids who love the same things we did,” Matt says.

Their advice to aspiring filmmakers: “Ignore all the noise,” Matt says. “Write what you want. If you truly love something, someone else out there will love it too.”

Apparently, Netflix loves what the Duffer brothers love, too. Season Two of Stranger Things releases on October 27 with nine episodes, a little leap from the eight of Season One.

For Chapman Celebrates ticket information, please contact Tami R. Thompson at (714) 744-7031 or TThompso@Chapman