“We recognize that the power of the written word is one answer to a broader understanding between the peoples of the world and thence to a more peaceful and cooperative life together in this ever-narrowing universe.”—Walter Neustadt Jr., Address at the 1972 Neustadt Banquet
The Neustadt family’s major support of the University of Oklahoma has been crucial to the institution’s development. From the gift to the university of land for Max Westheimer Airpark to the addition of the Neustadt Wing of the Bizzell Memorial Library, sponsorship of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and establishment of the Neustadt Professorship in Comparative Literature, through three generations of active, visionary leadership, the Neustadt family has promoted excellence in higher education.
The Neustadt family endowed what was then known as the Books Abroad International Prize for Literature in 1972. Walter Neustadt Jr. (1919–2010) had received his master’s degree from OU in 1941 and was a member of the Board of Regents and a trustee of the OU Foundation when President Paul F. Sharp announced the $200,000 gift on May 17, 1972. The award received its present name, the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, in 1976. In 1992 Walter received the Oklahoma Governor’s Arts Award for his support of literature and the arts in the state and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from OU in 2005.
With the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, a new generation of the Neustadt family has dedicated itself to advancing the cause of literary excellence at the University of Oklahoma. The letters “NSK” stand for Nancy, Susan, and Kathy, the children of Walter and Dolores Neustadt and the benefactors of the prize. The three sisters decided to encourage the improvement of writing for children by honoring an accomplished contemporary writer or illustrator of children’s and young adult literature every other year. All three were honored with Regents’ Alumni Awards in 2011 for their dedication and service to the university.
Nancy Barcelo lives in Watertown, Massachusetts, with her husband, Scott, and their children, Sam and Emma. She recently retired from directing the hospice volunteer program for VNA Care Hospice but continues to facilitate hospice volunteer trainings and volunteer support groups. She has always loved books and received a BA in English from Skidmore College. She received a master’s degree as a reading specialist from Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Sam recently completed an MBA program at Boston University and will likely be looking in the nonprofit sector. Emma works at Acronym, a company that supports and develops digital media, primarily for national Democratic elections.
Susan Neustadt Schwartz cofounded Equest, a therapeutic horseback-riding program, in 1981 and continues to serve on its board of directors. She also helped start a therapeutic horseback riding program in a women’s prison in Canada in 2010. She served on the Shelton School and Evaluation Center’s board of directors from 2006 to 2014 and the Fairhill School board of directors from 1982 to 1986. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a BFA and went on to receive her master’s degree in education from Southern Methodist University. Before starting Equest, she taught at Fairhill School for twelve years and tutored children at Shelton and Saint Philip’s School. Her awards include the volunteer of the year award from the international organization PATH, the Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship, and the Woman of Distinction Award from Lake Forest Academy in Chicago. She has two daughters, Elizabeth and Kate, and fostered two boys, Aaron and Elijah, whose parents died when they were very young.
Kathy Neustadt lives in Denver and is a freelance field producer for ABC News. Before television, she worked in radio broadcasting in the mountains of Colorado for five years before going to work at KCNC-TV in Denver as a news writer. Kathy works extensively in not-for-profits in the Denver area. She is on the board of trustees at the Rose Community Foundation in Denver, current board chair of the Mizel Arts and Culture Center, and the former chair and longtime board member of the Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center. In 2012 Kathy endowed what is now the Neustadt JAAMM Festival, which features Jewish authors, speakers, music, and film at the JCC every fall. She went to the University of Oklahoma and graduated from the University of Denver with a degree in mass communications. She loves to ski and hike in the Rockies and has two children, Tess and Josh Hankin.
Walter Neustadt Jr.