Professor Cucunato memorial set for Nov. 12

Donna Cucunato at retirement reception with President Jim Doti and her husband.

Memorial services for Donna Cucunato, associate professor emerita, who passed away in October, will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 12 at the Fish Interfaith Center, Wallace All Faiths Chapel.

Cucunato was a beloved faculty member who joined the university in 1976 as a dance professor and soon became director of Chapman’s fledgling dance program, serving in that capacity for 16 years.

In an interview last spring reflecting on those early days, Cucunato described it as a dynamic era of “making do with less and doing anything and everything to make a production happen.” When a leaking roof on the dance studio couldn’t be repaired in time for a class, buckets were placed on the floor and she improvised the day’s routines around them. “We did sort of a circular pattern,” she recalled with a laugh.

After directing the dance program, she became coordinator of the Liberal Studies program, serving in that role until her retirement last spring. Under her leadership, the program grew to more than 180 majors.

The Cucunato Movement Education Scholarship fund was announced by the College of Educational Studies at spring retirement celebration for Cucunato.  In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Donna’s memory to the Cucunato Movement Education Scholarship and/or the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute for Ovarian Cancer Research.

Dawn Bonker


  • What a shock to hear this news. My best to her family. Donna was one of a kind and we all under her learned alot. She won’t be forgotten. Blessings to you all.

    Penny Bobier

  • I entered the Chapman Dance Department as a freshman in 1989. Donna welcomed me and ushered me through during my years at Chapman. She even drove a van that took a number of us through CA, AZ and NV on dance tour. I am so saddened to hear of her passing. She had a beautiful spirit and a love of dance that was visible to all. I can absolutely picture her tapping with a huge smile on her face. My best to her family. She will never be forgotten.

    Connie Benson

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