Scientist, Photographer, Philanthropist

Spotlight Date: 
August 18, 2014
Alexander and Renate Dreyfoos

In 1997, Alexander W. Dreyfoos made what was at the time the largest private contribution to a Florida public school. The then named Palm Beach County School of the Arts was a small magnet school serving approximately 800 students from 6th to 12th grade. Mr. Dreyfoos saw the potential and wanted to see the school grow. In the fall of 1997 the newly renovated and newly named Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts opened its gates in downtown West Palm Beach.  

“There were many features of the School that I found of interest, but primary among them is the policy of admission based entirely on audition. It is my belief that being creative is an innate talent that can be observed at an early age through audition. Other kinds of admission testing have much more to do with the quality of education up to that point in life than to the students’ potential. I also like the fact that admission is blind to color, ethnicity, religion, or economic capability.”

Mr. Dreyfoos has had plenty of experience with the development of arts and culture in Palm Beach County; he spearheaded the efforts to build the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, and founded the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. Today, Mr. Dreyfoos continues to support the school through his Math, Science and Technology Endowment. When asked what motivated him to stay involved and supportive of DSOA, Mr. Dreyfoos replied “Results! Dreyfoos students are routinely accepted to institutions such as Juilliard and Rhode Island School of Design, as might be expected, but also the very top universities, including my alma-maters M.I.T. and Harvard.”

“Institutions such as The Scripps Research Institute and the Max Planck Institute made their decisions to locate here because of the existence of institutions such as DSOA and the Kravis Center, and those institutions are, in turn, improving the quality of life in our community.

Photo by Alexander W. Dreyfoos

With a background in science, holding numerous patents and even an Academy Award for his work in the fields of electronics and photography, it is no surprise that Mr. Dreyfoos is himself a photographer, often documenting adventures while travelling aboard his yacht, the Silver Cloud. “There have been so many unique, diverse experiences among the more than 100 countries I have had the opportunity to visit that it is impossible to pick just one, however, seeing tribal life ashore, together with scuba diving on ship and aircraft wrecks and the unique underwater species in Papa New Guinea would be close to the top.”

Amidst his travels, Mr. Dreyfoos always makes time to attend Dreyfoos performances, stating that the 2008 theatre production of West Side Story was one of his favorites, as well as “the Prism Concerts, particularly those held at the Kravis Center. (Thank you Jim Patterson).” He and his wife, Renate, can also often be found at one of the Foundation Guilds’ annual luncheons, enjoying a myriad of performances from our talented Dreyfoos students.